Nearly 2 Million Californians Are Unemployed

Welcome to California, the Pink Slip State.

California's jobless rate climbed to 10.5 percent in February, for the state's second month of double-digit unemployment.

The California Employment Development Department reports the unemployment rate increased from 10.1 percent in January. The rate tops the national rate of 8.1 percent.

About 1.95 million Californians are unemployed. Sharp declines in construction, manufacturing, finance, trade, transportation, professional services, leisure, health and education are blamed for the losses.

Los Angeles County's unemployment rate rose again in February to 10.9 percent, up from 10.4 percent in January, the state Economic Development Department reported. The rate is nearly double the 6.1 percent unemployment rate for February 2008, according to the EDD. Since then, countywide employment has dropped by 130,000 jobs.

For Los Angeles County, 4,800 retail jobs were lost in February, according to the EDD. The trade, transportation and utilities sectors lost a combined 5,800 jobs and another 1,700 jobs were lost in manufacturing.

In addition, 500 jobs were lost in publishing, broadcasting and telecommunications and 1,000 in construction and financial services, the report said.

But there were some bright spots in the Los Angeles County economy, with 9,600 jobs gained in education and health services and 9,300 jobs added in the information sector, according to the EDD.

Most of those gains came at private colleges, universities and professional schools.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi said the state's unemployment rate, which is the highest in almost three decades, should be an incentive to maintain funding for community colleges and universities.

"These are very difficult and trying times for Californians but they cannot lose hope of finding new jobs," Garamendi said. "This is why we cannot slam the door on higher education, particularly at the community colleges, where Californians who have lost their jobs are being retrained for new
employment in areas like solar energy and healthcare.

"California's community colleges are the state's largest workforce training provider. We must recognize the importance of California'continued investment in higher education and job retraining."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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