The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Why an 11-percent unemployment rate in California is better than 10.9 percent

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its California jobs report today for March, as did the Employment Development Department (EDD). The bad news is that the state's unemployment rate climbed very slightly, to 11 percent from 10.9 percent. The good news is that the state added more than 18,000 jobs in the month. And the even better news is that the rate ticked up because the overall labor force is actually growing.

I know, I know, where's the good-good news in that? Well, greater labor force participation will tend to bring the unemployment rate up. That's because there are more people looking for work than there were in February — a sign that people who had been out of the labor market now feel confident enough to come back in.

Ironically, that 0.1 increase is a positive indicator. 

That said, California's unemployment rate is still much higher than the national rate, 8.2 percent. At some point, you'd expect California to start adding jobs at a more brisk clip, catching up with the country as a whole. But we were hit too hard by the housing downturn for that to happen, especially given than our national rate of GDP growth is hanging out somewhere on the 2-3 percent range. 

It's going to be a long, slow climb back, unfortunately.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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