California Joblessness Reaches 70-Year High: Highest Since 1940

The New York Times notes:

California’s unemployment rate in August hit its highest point in nearly 70 years…The state’s new unemployment rate [is] 12.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Statistics kept by the state show California’s unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in 1940, said Kevin Callori, a spokesman for the California Employment Development Department.While California has convulsed under the same blows as the rest of the country over the last two years, its exposure to both the foreclosure crisis and the slowdown in construction — an industry that has fueled growth in much of the state over the last decade — has been outsized.

Total building levels in California have fallen to $23 billion this year from $63 billion in 2005; home building this year is less than a quarter of what it was in 2005, according to the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. Roughly 500,000 of the state’s job losses have been in construction, finance, real estate and industries related to construction.

“We were at the epicenter of the housing bubble, and we are at the epicenter of the fallout,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist and director of the center. “The reason we are doing worse in California than other states is construction.”


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