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HIRING FREEZE: You wouldn’t know it from...

HIRING FREEZE: You wouldn’t know it from those crowds at the mall over the weekend, but close to one in 10 Ventura County workers remains unemployed (B1). Last month’s 9.3% jobless rate is exactly the same as the previous October and 3 points ahead of the national rate. . . . The county has lost 1,400 manufacturing jobs in the past year, so here’s welcome news: Royce Medical, which makes back braces, is moving from Los Angeles County to Camarillo, bringing 150 jobs (Valley Business, Page 12).

BUYING TIME: One sector where jobs increased in the county last month was real estate--part of a nationwide boom that pushed October home sales to the highest level in 14 years (D4). . . . “It’s definitely turning around,” said Cathy Mims, president of the Oxnard-Harbor Assn. of Realtors. “We’re getting two or three offers to present at a time. We haven’t seen that in many months”. . . . Half the home buyers are first-timers, she said. Still lagging: condo sales.

BUSY NURSE: Don’t call Linda Butcher one of a dying breed--it might be bad for business. But school nurses like Butcher are gradually disappearing from Ventura County schools (B1). . . . Despite a dismal job market, applications are up at Ventura Community College, which graduates about 80 nurses a year. Typical wait to get in: 18 to 24 months. Nearly a third of graduates are men.

WELCOME SIGN: It may be years before the Ventura campus of Cal State Northridge becomes a separate four-year university, but it has achieved an intermediate goal: signs on the Ventura Freeway telling motorists where it is. . . . “We’ve been campaigning for four years,” said Director Joyce Kennedy. Problem: persuading Caltrans that the 1,300-student campus was large enough to warrant freeway billing. . . . After the signs went up last week, Kennedy rushed out to take photos. “It was not very bright of me to take a picture on the side of the freeway, but I was euphoric”. . . . The Ventura campus celebrates its 20th anniversary next year.

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