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California unemployment rate hits 12.5 percent

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California’s unemployment rate rose to 12.5 percent in October to set another modern record, even though more than 25,000 Californians found jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

October’s job gains followed 66,000 job losses the month before.

Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said larger job gains are needed to lower the unemployment rate.

“The best we can say is that like the nation, the magnitude of job losses seem to be declining,” Levy said. “This is not a sign that the jobs losses have ended.”

The state has lost 687,700 jobs since October 2008, a decline of about 4.6 percent, according to the state’s survey of 42,000 California businesses.

Nearly 2.3 million Californians were without work in October. The number does not include the nearly 500,000 workers who have taken low-paying or part-time jobs because that’s all they could find, or the 109,000 people who have given up looking for work, according to the state.

Job declines have been across the economy, including construction, manufacturing, mining, logging, trade, transportation and utilities. Information, financial services, professional and business services, educational and health services, leisure and hospitality and government gained 48,600 jobs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that California was one of 29 states reporting unemployment rate increases. Only three states — Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island — had higher rates than California last month.

The rate is slightly higher than September, when officials reported a jobless rate of 12.2 percent. The state revised the number to 12.3 percent. It was 8 percent a year ago.

The national unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in October.

The hardest-hit county in California was Imperial, along the border with Mexico, with an unemployment rate of 30 percent not adjusted for seasonal changes in hiring. That was followed by Alpine, Trinity and Yuba counties.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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