Is California economy improving, or worse than ever?


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Depending on who you ask this Labor Day, California’s economy is either on its way up or headed straight for the crapper.

A report released today by the California Budget Project finds that the state has a historically low level of employment, even as earnings are declining for most workers. By July, the report says, the state had gained back only one out of six jobs lost during the recession. The state added only 2,760 jobs a month between February and July.


Government is dragging down the economy, the report says. Over the last three years, the state has lost public sector jobs at a rate twice that of the nation as a whole, the report says. Inland areas aren’t helping either -- between June 2010 and June 2011, the Inland Empire lost 10,300 jobs.

Finally, inflation-adjusted earnings in California declined 1.9% between 2006 and 2010, the report says, making a typical worker have less purchasing power in 2010 than at any point in the last 10 years.

‘Coupled with the latest figures showing extremely slow growth in the national economy, these state trends make it clear that we’re a long way from a recovery that makes a real difference for California’s workers and their families,’ said the report’s author, Alissa Anderson, deputy director of the California Budget Project.

But according to a Labor Day Briefing from the state Employment Development Department, California ‘has been gaining jobs at the fastest rate since the boom year of 2006’ and more quickly than the nation as a whole. California is also outpacing the nation in private job growth, the EDD says.

The EDD says California added 189,400 jobs from July 2010 to July 2011, which is a 1.4% growth rate at a time when the nation’s employment picture grew just 1%. The state’s year-over-year July job growth rate is the strongest in five years.

Industries that managed to grow year over year in July included professional and business services, education and health services, and even construction, the EDD points out. It says there are occupations that are projected to grow in the state: executive secretaries, registered nurses and accountants.



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-- Alana Semuels