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Economic Recovery Still Not Good Enough

June 17, 2011

Unemployed business people waiting for jobsA summary released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows once again that the job market is losing its steam.

Today's Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary echoes the recent disappointing May Jobs Report. According to the Labor Department, 24 states saw decreases in their unemployment rates during the month of May; the unemployment rates in 13 states and the District of Columbia increased and in the remaining 13 states, the unemployment rate was unchanged. New Mexico saw the largest over-the-month jobless rate decrease--the jobless rate dropped to 6.9 percent from 7.6 percent in April. Nevada remains the state with the highest jobless rate, 12.1 percent, followed by California with 11.7 percent. The Los Angeles Times reported that although California has the second highest jobless rate in the nation, the figure has fallen from 11.8 percent in April. Economists remain optimistic about the state's future.

"This is completely consistent with what we expected in California--the recovery is going to be slow," said Bill Watkins, director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University, to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the high unemployment rate, California's Bay Area tech companies continued to be a saving grace--the unemployment rate in the San Francisco area is just 8.1 percent. Futhermore, the San Francisco area and the San Jose-Santa Clara area added a total of 4,700 jobs last month.

"It's a hiring frenzy," said Kevin Hartz, CEO of Eventbrite, a San Francisco-based online ticketing and event planning company that has hired 32 people so far this quarter.

As the Labor Department's summary reported, payroll employment dropped in 27 states and the District of Columbia, but increased in 22 states. Florida, which added 28,000 jobs, had the largest over-the-month increase in employment, followed by Ohio (adding 12,000 jobs) and Arizona and Louisiana (both adding 10,100 jobs).

In terms of regions, the West had the highest unemployment rate in last month, 10.3 percent. Conversely, the Northeast and Midwest had the lowest rates, 8.0 and 8.1 percent, respectively.

In slightly encouraging news, CNN Money reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits were down 16,000 last week. Continuing claims fell by 21,000 in the week ended June 4; however, the decline may be due to the fact that more people have exhausted their unemployment benefits, which last for 22 months in some states. New York had the largest decline in unemployment claims as the state experienced fewer layoffs in construction, manufacturing and retail.


Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin

Sources:

"California employers drop 29,200 jobs in May," LATimes.com, June 17, 2011, Alana Semuels

"Jobless claims down but remain above 400,000," CNNMoney.com, June 16, 2011, Annalyn Censky

"Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary," bls.gov, June 17, 2011

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