Job center staying busy

Job seekers continue streaming into Glendale's Verdugo Jobs Center amid the shaky economic recovery.

Officials say between 9,000 and 10,000 people each month visit the center to get training or find leads on possible jobs — a telling symptom of how the slow-to-recover recession is still taking its toll on the local job market.

The figure has remained steady for the last several months, and it promises to remain that way, as national employment figures released Friday were mixed. The private sector gained more than 80,000 jobs in June, but government job losses, most notably the release of 225,000 temporary Census Bureau employees, were larger than the gains.

On Friday, dozens of people sat in cubicles at the job center on Central Avenue in Glendale, searching the Web for job prospects or using the nearby phone bank to line up interviews.

"In the last few months it looked like there were more permanent possibilities opening up for people, but in June it was kind of flat again," said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, which operates the center. "Prior to that, a lot of the jobs were more temporary and part time."

Nakamoto and Bruce Ackerman, the president of the Valley Economic Alliance, said they were pleased to see private sector growth in June, but also saw reason for caution. The growth, they said, was in large companies. Smaller businesses continue to struggle to secure financing and pay for the goods that allow them to expand.

"It is the smaller companies that haven't been able to add jobs," Nakamoto said. "Usually in the U.S. economy, those are the companies that create the majority of jobs."

Ackerman said the entertainment sector is "one of the healthiest in the valley, without a doubt." He also said manufacturing is a source of local strength.

"We're going to go through some dips," Ackerman said. "It is not going to be a recovery that is all full-steam ahead."

One drag on the economy is the government sector. With California facing a $19-billion deficit this year, teachers, police and others are getting pink slips.

"That's where we are seeing some layoffs recently, out of the schools and the government sector," Nakamoto said. "Those areas are dependent on the state budget, and the state budget isn't going too well."

The most recent local unemployment figures, released by the California Economic Development Department in mid-June, showed an unemployment rate of 9.9 % in Burbank, 10.6 % in Glendale and 12.3 % in Los Angeles.

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