Explaining Southern California's economy

California unemployment: Getting better, but the West still bad

Career Fair Held In San Mateo

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A job seeker goes through a folder before meeting with recruiters at the National Career Fairs' San Francisco in San Mateo, California. California led the nation in jobs adding in June, according the Labor Department.

The Labor Department released its June jobs report for U.S. regions and states this morning, and California topped an important list: The state added 38,000 jobs compared with May, more than twice as many as the next-best-performing state, Ohio. California's jobless rate also fell very slightly, to 10.7 percent from 10.8 percent.

However, California remains at the center of an unemployment crisis in both the West region and the Pacific division (the Bureau of Labor Statistic collects data for nine geographical divisions in the U.S.). The unemployment rate both in the West and the Pacific division are the highest in the U.S., at 9.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Nevada is in the worst shape of all the states, with unemployment at 11.6 percent.

For what it's worth, if you want a job in the U.S., the best state to be in is North Dakota, with a 2.9 percent unemployment rate. Exceptionally low joblessness there is being driven by an energy boom.

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If you want a job in this economy, education is a must

Employment by education

Data: BLS

It isn't rocket science. If you have a college degree, you can get a job in the U.S.

In the wake of this morning's bad jobs report from the Labor Department, there's been some discussion in various media outlets about the gap between the unemployment rate for Americans over 25 with limited education and those with a college degree. This comes from the BLS's breakdown of the monthly data, which you can see here.

I've turned the headline number into a simple chart, above. And I've used the seasonally adjusted numbers, just to simplify.

As you can see, having less than a high-school education is a job-getting disaster. But if you follow the line, you'll notice that having that high-school diploma gets you only to the the current national unemployment rate, roughly: 8.4 percent, while the U.S. level is now 8.2 percent.

"Some college" doesn't even push it down that far: 7.5 percent.

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June jobs report: Better than May, but still disappointing

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A job seeker pauses as he fills out an application during a career fair in Concord, California.

No "surprise to the upside." The June jobs report is out from the Labor Department and the news isn't as good as many observers had hoped when some positive employment data came out yesterday. The U.S. added only 80,000 new private-sector jobs, well below the 176,000 that payroll processor ADP reported. The unemployment rate remains 8.2 percent.

Last month's gloomy 69,000 new-jobs figure was revised up slightly, to 77,000 (and April's numbers were revised down). But otherwise the words "unchanged" and "essentially unchanged" define the June report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We still have 12.7 million unemployed Americans and 5.4 million Americans — an alarming 42 percent of the total — who are classified as "long-term unemployed," or out of work for 27 weeks or more.

A 100,000-plus June report would have been welcome at this juncture, even though job creation at that level would be far below what the country needs for the recovery to pick up steam. For that to happen, we need to add 300-400,000 new jobs each month.

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June jobs report could 'surprise to the upside'

A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to the US Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC. Friday's jobs report from the Labor Department could be a happy surprise.

"Surprise to the upside" — that's finance-speak for something in the market turning out better than expected. After last month's fairly dreadful jobs report, with the U.S. adding only 69,000 jobs in May, many observers are expecting another sluggish month in June. However, some data that has arrived before the official Labor Department report tomorrow suggests that June could beat expectations.

As I wrote this morning, the ADP report says that the country added 176,000 new private-sector jobs in June — with the lion's share coming from small-business hiring. The Challenger report on layoffs also indicated that companies planned to lay off less than 40,000 workers in June, a 13-month low. And first-time unemployment insurance claims for the last week in June fell, to 374,000. If you're below 400,000, that's typically a good sign for the economy's improving health.

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Encouraging data coming out ahead of Friday's jobs report

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A job seeker looks over event materials as she waits to enter the San Francisco Hirevent job fair at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco. Two encouraging if not exactly thrilling reports on hiring and layoffs arrived this morning, ahead on Friday's official government jobs numbers.

Two relatively optimistic reports have come out this morning, ahead of tomorrow's official government jobs report from the Labor Department. The ADP National Employment Report shows that the economy added 176,000 new private-sector jobs in June — 93,000 by small businesses.

You have to be careful with the ADP report, however. It can deviate significantly from the government's numbers. Last month, ADP said the economy had added 133,000 jobs in May, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concluded that we added only 69,000.

Bloomberg surveys economist each month to develop a consensus on the jobs situation and this time around, the number is around 100,000 new jobs — lower than ADP by a good margin and well below the 150,000 that was anticipated for May.

Finally, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a human-resources consulting firm that tracks hiring and layoffs, announced that employers are slowing their pace of layoffs to a 13-month low of 37,551. 

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