Explaining Southern California's economy

Why better third-quarter U.S. economic growth isn't good enough

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A Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at the company's factory in Everett, Wash. Building and selling more of these would improve weak U.S. growth.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its estimate for third-quarter U.S. economic growth on Thursday. The news is good: the total output of the economy, its gross domestic product (GDP), moved up to 2.7 percent from an earlier estimate of 2 percent.

The upward revision isn't terribly shocking (if an economist gives you a shopping list, you can expect a revision by the time you get to the cereal aisle). But it is a nice surprise. It means that the economy grew more briskly in the third quarter – although it doesn't mean that U.S. GDP growth for the year will get its head above 2 percent total. For that, the country will need a pretty solid fourth quarter.

For the record, that's what happened last year. The fourth quarter came in at 4 percent. But the entire year averaged out to only 1.7 percent, because the other three quarters were so weak.

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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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California and LA unemployment: Improving, but very slowly

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A "we are hiring" sign is displayed on a table during the San Francisco Hirevent job fair. California's jobless rate in October fell to 10.1 percent from 10.2 percent.

The California Employment Development Department released its report on October jobs in the state Friday. The federal Labor Department will release its report next week. The story is good, in a tenth-of-a-percentage-point kind of way: the jobless rate fell to 10.1% in October, from September's 10.2%.

In Los Angeles, the unemployment rate dropped to 10.5 from 10.6%.

"We're seeing everything start to move in he right direction," said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. "We're edging closer to breaking that 10% mark."

That could happen soon if California continues to add jobs as it has at a faster clip than the nation as a whole. In the U.S. jobs are being added at a rate of 1.5%. In California, the rate is 2.1%, driven by the strong performance of the tech sector in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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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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