A solid national jobs report this morning — 227,000 new jobs added, unemployment rate steady at 8.3 percent — was followed by a psychologically significant California report, from the state's Employment Development Department. At long last, we're below 11 percent — 10.9 to be exact, for January 2012.
Bear in mind that 10.9 percent is still much higher than the national rate. In Los Angeles, it's even higher, at 11.6 percent (that's the December 2011 number). Still, the overall trend is down. After a rough 2011, we can start to feel better about the economy's momentum.
Importantly, in California we're beginning to see signs of a recovery in the housing sector. Home sales and home buildings appear to be picking up, although it's still unclear whether prices have bottomed. The market continues to be out of whack and could take another four or five years to normalize. But improvements showed up nationally and at the state level, as construction added jobs. The pace is slow, but the direction is positive.
California has a huge economy, nearly $2 trillion annually. What's been holding the state back from a more robust recovery is, plain and simple, the aftermath of the housing crisis. Once that (increasingly smaller) black hole starts to fade away, the state's economy will probably take off, catching up with the nation and, in all likelihood, surging ahead.
The key for now, if you're a Californian, is to remain patient.