California’s unemployment rate decreased to 10.9 percent in January, according to the Employment Development Department.
In December, the state’s unemployment rate was 11.2 percent, and in January 2011 the unemployment rate was 12.1 percent.
The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged in February at 8.3 percent, with the number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million..
Although, the numbers in California and across the U.S. are showing improvement or stabilization Los Angeles County is not quite keeping pace, according to Robert Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation
“We’ve been a little bit slow on the job creation front here in LA County in compared to the state and we’ve lagged a little bit compared to the nation as well,” said Kleinhenz.
Using December figures, Los Angeles County added jobs at an annual rate of .04 of one percent compared to more than 1 percent for the state and U.S.
Kleinhenz suggests the solution for the long-term unemployed is education.
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“People who fall into that category are unskilled and have less education. I think it’s going to be more difficult for them to move out of that category, and find gainful employment going forward,” said Kleinhenz.
He bases his assessment on the nature of jobs being created over the last couple of months.
“Increasingly the jobs that we are creating in our economy here in Southern California and nationally are jobs that require at least some level of skill. Some kind of specialized training to an increasing extent tied to automation, use of computers, computerized technology,” Kleinhenz said.
Although gas prices have spiked just as the economy seems to be on a rebound, Kleinhenz says the cost may slow growth but not derail it. He believes that people have become more fuel efficient as consumers and producers in our economy.
“Over the last 30 or 40 years these kind of energy price spikes don’t have nearly the deleterious effects on both consumer spending and the overall level of activity they once had,” said Kleinhenz.
He says the idea that rising gas prices will affect consumer costs on transported goods is exaggerated.
“When you look at the percentage of the total retail price of a good that one can attribute to fuel, it’s not as big as you would think. And so there might be a little bit of an impact but I don’t think it’s going to be a major impact,” Kleinhenz said.