L.A. County's unemployment rate fell to 12.3 percent in March from 12.6 percent the month earlier and 12.9 percent in January. California's rate dropped to 12 percent from 12.1 percent. These are still very high numbers, especially compared with the 8.8 percent national rate, but at least they're trending in the right direction. The separate payroll survey was another story: L.A. was essentially flat for the month (a loss of 400 jobs), which follows February's gain of nearly 45,000 positions. California lost 11,600 jobs in March. Payroll numbers do tend to bounce around during the early stages of a recovery, so it's a little early to sound the alarm bells. Still, it's not great to see payroll jobs falling, even with a lower unemployment rate. From Bloomberg:
California's economy isn't being helped by the slowest population growth ever recorded for the state. The number of residents climbed 10 percent between 2000 and 2010, to 37.3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Inland counties that captured much of that growth have unemployment higher than the state average, according to the California Economic Development Department. "It's a tale of two economies," said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, based in Palo Alto. Counties with higher unemployment are "constrained by the lack of housing recovery and the beginnings of government layoffs," he said.
The weird thing is that government payrolls actually increased in L.A. County last month.
From the LAT:
The weak job figures bolster theories that this economic recovery will be slow and erratic. "We're not going to have a normal recovery because we have so many permanent displacements in the workforce," said Ed Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. Without people working, consumer spending will remain weak, he said, and companies will be reluctant to hire.