Several California metropolitan areas registered among the nation's highest unemployment rates in September, according to figures released yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The El Centro metropolitan area in Imperial County continued to lead the nation with a 30.4 percent jobless rate. The heavily agricultural area has recorded the country's highest jobless rate every month since June 2007.
In California, there was only one metropolitan area that saw year-over-year job growth in September: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, which gained 13,400 jobs.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in September, compared to 9.5 percent a year earlier. California's jobless rate was 12.2 percent, compared to 11.8 percent last year. Among the 13 metropolitan areas with unemployment rates of at least 15 percent in September, nine were in California:
- Bakersfield-Delano: 15.1 percent
- El Centro: 30.4 percent
- Fresno: 15.2 percent
- Merced: 16.6 percent
- Modesto: 16.2 percent
- Redding: 15.2 percent
- Stockton: 16.6 percent
- Visalia-Porterville: 15.9 percent
- Yuba City: 17.9 percent
Among metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario had the second-highest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 14.8 percent, just behind the 15-percent jobless rate in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.
Yuba City had the second-largest year-over-year unemployment rate increase at 2.4 percent. It also reported the nation's largest percentage decrease in employment (4.7 percent).
As for drops in over-the-year employment, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale shed 37,100 non-farm jobs and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont lost 33,900. Overall, California counted 62,100 fewer employees on its non-farm payrolls.
The Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta metropolitan area recorded the state's lowest unemployment rate in September at 9 percent. Napa was close behind at 9.3 percent. The lowest jobless rate in the country is 2.8 percent in Bismarck, N.D.
Governor-elect Jerry Brown pushed green jobs to kick-start the state's economy. Barbara Boxer, who held onto her Senate seat with 52 percent of the vote, defended the federal stimulus bill as having saved eight million jobs and opposed tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.
In a press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama emphasized the need for job creation. He acknowledged that Americans are frustrated with the economy, attributing their discontent largely to the pace of economic recovery, which he said is now "stuck in neutral."
"We've stabilized the economy, we've got job growth in the private sectors, but people all across America aren't feeling that progress," he said. "They don't see it."
Asked what government could do to spur job growth across the country, Obama too pointed to green jobs: "If we can develop new technologies in areas like clean energy, that could make all the difference in terms of job creation here at home."
Obama also voiced support for an extension of unemployment insurance, which he authorized in July, because, he said, "there are still a lot of folks out there hurting."
As of Tuesday, the state Employment Development Department reported that nearly 232,000 Californians had exhausted their unemployment benefits.