Addition of 30,200 new jobs can’t stop rise in joblessness; total tops 1 million
LOS ANGELES – Even as California’s economy produced 30,200 additional jobs, the state unemployment rate crept to 6.2 percent in January, up from a revised 6.1 percent in December, state officials said Friday.
“The job generation was impressive, given we’re still feeling the effects of September 11th,” said Michael Bernick, director of the Economic Development Department.
But the growth, driven by the trade and services sectors, wasn’t enough to offset the number of people looking for work in January.
With the number of unemployed Californians hitting 1,083,000 in January – 276,000 more than a year earlier – many job seekers said they are finding it hard to remain upbeat.
“Sometimes I’m hopeful. Sometimes I feel cynical. I try not to get discouraged,” said Charles Gallin, who is trying to find work in San Francisco in an accounts payable department.
The 34-year-old has been sending out resumes since he was laid off by CMP Media, a publishing and advertising firm, in November and has registered on four Internet job sites. So far, he has only had three responses telling him his application is being considered.
Gallin is relying on unemployment insurance and some temporary jobs to pay his bills. But he hasn’t had a call in three weeks from any of the six temp agencies with which he’s registered.
“This is the slowest it’s been for me,” he said.
The San Francisco Bay area job market remained particularly weak in January, suffering from the technology bust and ongoing weakness in the hospitality industry. In San Francisco County the unemployment rate hit 7 percent, compared with 3.8 percent in Orange County.
Some San Francisco Bay area residents are considering a move south to find work.
Jacqueline Breedlove, who lost her job at an AIDS recovery center on Jan. 11, said she sees about twice as many job listings in Los Angeles and is considering leaving Oakland.
She’s sent out several hundred resumes, but despite a master’s degree and 20 years experience as a social worker, the mother of two has only managed to schedule one interview.
Breedlove said her savings are gone, and she has had to borrow from her mother and friends.
“It looks pretty bleak to me at this point. I’m getting very emotional and sometimes want to cry but must contain myself,” she said.
Economists warn that the employment picture is normally slow to improve coming out of a recession because companies wait for business to improve before adding new jobs.
Some organizations that help people find work said their caseloads have been rising steadily, even as the economy sends out signals of recovery.
“Things have gotten worse,” said Katherine Field, a coordinator at the EastBay Works Oakland Career Center. “Our career counselors are hearing that people can’t even get temp jobs at $8 to $10 an hour.”
Employers have positions to fill, but they are holding off as long as they can, Field said. She is hopeful that some will choose to hire in late March when the center hosts a job fair in downtown Oakland.
In San Diego, where the county unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, Steve Opp said he’s become more optimistic about the job market in the last few weeks after searching six months for work.
The 47-year-old marketing executive said firms are rigorous in their selection criteria and slow to make decisions. But he’s starting to see more listings.
“I think there are plenty of jobs out there right now, it’s just a question of how far people are willing to deviate,” he said.