Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Report finds 'deeply challenging' labor market in California

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A report by the California Budget Project says the addition of 750,00 jobs over the past three years has still left much of the state in double-digit unemployment.  

"California still has a job market in which too many workers can't obtain full-time jobs that pay a good wage," said Luke Reidenbach, policy analyst with the non-partisan CBP and the report's author. "California's emerging recovery is not providing the mix of jobs needed for a robust economic rebound that benefits the full range of workers and their families."

Among the group’s findings: The share of unemployed Californians who have been seeking work for six months or longer is down only slightly from a record high, and stands at 43 percent. The report also found men have fared better than women. During the past three years of overall job growth, employment among prime-working-age men – ages 25 to 54 – has increased, as it dropped slightly for women in the same age group.

Other numbers:

  • 1.3 million workers, or eight percent of all employed Californians can only find part-time jobs.
  • 34 out of 58 counties have an average unemployment rate in the double digits. The lowest county unemployment rate is 5.1 percent in Marin County, and the highest is 24.5 percent in Imperial County.
  • Due to recent gains, high-wage workers — those at the 80th percentile of California's earnings distribution — have seen inflation-adjusted hourly earnings nearly return to their 2006 level. Meanwhile, inflation-adjusted wages of low-wage workers (those at the 20th percentile) and mid-wage workers (with earnings exactly in the middle of the distribution) have failed to catch up to pre-recession levels. 

Significantly, the current recovery is relying more heavily on low-wage industries such as leisure and hospitality, and less on industries that generally pay more than the state's typical hourly wage, such as construction and government.

The California Budget Project argues reinvestment in education — from early childhood, to college — is critical to the state's near- and longer-term economic growth.


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