Explaining Southern California's economy

California's unemployment rate falls to 10.8 percent in May

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A job seeker looks over event materials as she waits to enter the San Francisco Hirevent job fair at the Hotel Whitcomb on March 27, 2012 in San Francisco. California unemployment rate fell slightly in May 2012.

The Labor Department released data for May regional and state unemployment this morning. California's unemployment fell slightly, to 10.8 percent from 10.9.

Regionally, the West continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 9.4 percent, while for what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls "geographic regions," the Pacific has the highest rate, at 10.1 percent. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate for a single state, at 11.6 percent (which sounds terrible, until you note that last May, the number was a frightening 13.7 percent).

If you look at the current situation in California, we're definitely in a rut. These monthly tenth-of-a-percentage-point moves show a job market that's not recovering at a robust pace. 

But if you contrast the current situation with a year ago, the picture brightens. This is from the BLS release:

No state experienced a statistically significant unemployment rate change over the month. However, 28 states reported statistically significant rate changes from a year earlier, all of which were decreases.

California was one of those states, with a change in to 10.8 percent in May 2012 from 11.9 percent in May 2011. No one is going to pleased by today's California unemployment numbers, but overall the state is continuing to add jobs, rather than lose them. However, some of this very small dip could be attributable to people chosing to leave the labor force, rather than continue to look for work in a sluggish economy.

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