The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy
Business & Economy

Visual Aid: L.A. unemployment? Better. California? Still awful

It isn't pretty in the Golden State.
It isn't pretty in the Golden State.

The Labor Department released data for April 2012 metropolitan unemployment today. Across California, the picture isn't very pretty. The national rate stands at 8.1 percent, a figure that isn't matched by any metro area in the Golden State except the technology hub of San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont. Much of the rest of the state in mired in the double digits, a full four years after the financial crisis and the busting of the housing bubble. El Centro is at a terrifying 26.8 percent. 

For comparison, most of Texas is well below the national rate of 8.1 percent.

Virginia is basically back to full employment, at 5.4 percent for the state.

The L.A. metro area remains high, at 10.1 percent, according to the BLS. But the good news is that's down almost a full percentage point from April of 2011. 

The year-over-year drop is more significant than from March 2011-March 2012. I've circled the March change in the chart above in red, and the April 2011-April 2012 change in blue.

Bottom line is that while the pace of the unemployment decline seems to be accelerating, the L.A. area's number remains stubbornly elevates relative to the rest of the nation. It's also important to remember that the unemployment rate can go down when people drop out of the workforce. Which is exactly what appears to be happening, as the size of the region's labor force fell to 6.469 million in April 2012 from 6.508 million in April 2011.

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