Explaining Southern California's economy

CA unemployment falls to 10.1 in October, state leads nation in new jobs

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The California unemployment rate fell to 10.1 percent in October from 10.2 percent in September, according to the Labor Department.

California added 45,800 new jobs in October, leading the nation, but the state's unemployment rate remains high. At 10.1 percent, California ranks third, behind Nevada and Rhode Island. The September unemployment rate was slightly higher, at 10.2 percent, the Labor Department reported.

So, progress, but slow progress. California's pace of job creation is impressive. Of the 171,000 new jobs the entire U.S. added in October, 27 percent were in California. And since the beginning of the year, California has added nearly 300,000 jobs, outperforming Texas by a decent margin and outpacing New York by more than 2 to 1. 

However, in a truly healthy recovery, the U.S. would be adding 300,000-400,000 jobs each month. And a lot of those jobs would be in California. So an overall sluggish rate of hiring is keeping the state's unemployment rate in double digits. 

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US adds 171,000 jobs in October as unemployment rate rises to 7.9 percent

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Unemployed southern Californians line up to enter a job fair in El Monte.

The Labor Department has just released its October jobs report — the last report before next Tuesday's election. During the month, the U.S. added 171,000 new jobs. That improvement in the hiring picture, something that's been developing over the last three reports, was enough to nudge the headline unemployment rate up to 7.9 percent from 7.8.

As I argued Thursday in my jobs report preview, I thought we'd get a better-than-expected October. The ADP report, a private estimate that comes out before the government numbers, said October had been a plus-158,000 month. The Bloomberg consensus was more conservative, at plus-125,000. I was looking at revision to previous months — August and July were both revised up in the September report, and in today's October report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that in August, the U.S.  actually got close to 200,000 new jobs (192,000), and when August was first reported, that number was 92,000.

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October jobs preview: Friday is the last unemployment report before the election

A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to

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A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to the US Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC. The October national payrolls report hits on Friday — that last report from the Labor Department before the election.

The Labor Department will release its October jobs report at 5:30 a.m. ET Friday morning, making good on its promise to not allow Superstorm Sandy to prevent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) economists from delivering the last batch of national employment data before next Tuesday's election.

In September, job growth was weak, with only 115,000 new jobs added. But the unemployment rate — the headline number that most people who aren't economists pay attention to — fell in eye-catching fashion, to 7.8 from 8.1 percent. This set off a frenzy of conspiracy-oriented speculation that the books had somehow been cooked.

We probably don't have something similar in store for us with Friday's numbers. The ADP employment report — from a national payrolls processor — came out today and said 158,000 jobs were added in October, many at large businesses (81,000), but also quite a few at small businesses (50,000).

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September jobs report: US unemployment rate falls to 7.8 percent

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell substantially in September.

The most important number in the U.S. economy was released by the Labor Department. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent as the country added 115,000 new jobs in September. It's the second-to-last jobs report we're going to get before the election. The October report will hit the Friday before Americans go to the polls.

Apart from the notable drop in the headline rate — it has not been below 8 percent in four years — the number of jobs added for the month was about what economists expected. What's interesting — and encouraging — is that the previous two months saw job growth revised up. July went to 181,000 from 141,000, and August to 142,000 from 96,000. 

That's 87,000 new jobs, over two fairly weak months, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics just discovered. Mind you, these sub-200,000 numbers do not put the country on pace for even a break-even recovery. We're in a holding pattern. And to see the headline number fall faster, we need to add 300,000-400,000 new jobs each month.

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August jobs report: A big disappointment at 96,000

Obama Accepts Nomination On Final Day Of Democratic National Convention

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President Barack Obama speaks on stage as he accepts the nomination for president during the final day of the Democratic National Convention. The August jobs report could be critical for his re-election hopes.

The Labor Department has just released its jobs report for August. This one has been called the most important report of the entire year — and maybe the past four years — as it falls right after the end of the Democratic National Convention and just a few hours after President Obama's nomination acceptance speech. 

The number is bad: We added only 96,000 jobs in August. The headline unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 from 8.3 percent. This is far worse that what ADP reported yesterday — 201,000 — and well below expectations. It is, however, in line with an economy that's expanding very weakly, with GDP growth at less than 2 percent currently.

So no beat of expectations, or a surprise to the upside. This pretty well guarantees that the Federal Reserve will pull the trigger on another round of "quantitative easing," injecting money into the U.S. economy to stimulate growth and get the sluggish jobs market moving. We'll get a decision on that next week, when the Fed meets.

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