unemployment down

By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 01/23/15, 12:01 AM PST | Updated: 1 day ago

The Inland Empire saw a dramatic drop in unemployment last month. Its jobless rate for December was 7.2  percent, down from a revised 8  percent the previous month and 8.7  percent a year earlier, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The two-county region added 4,700 jobs over the month and 24,700 year over year, at an annual growth rate of just under 2  percent.

John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, based in San Bernardino, said the drop in unemployment is certainly welcome. But he has doubts about the accuracy of December’s reported job gains.

“If the EDD’s data is correct, then growth pretty much slowed down as the year went on,” he said. “But I underscore that by saying if the EDD’s data is correct.”

Husing noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics said 50,243 jobs were added in the Inland Empire from June 2013 to June 2014, while the state EDD said only 34,250 jobs were added.

“I’m not aware that things have slowed down,” he said. “I think things have picked up, and we’re probably looking at another underestimate by the EDD.”

Husing said the Bureau of Labor Statistics bases it numbers on information corporations provide when they file their unemployment insurance payments.

“It’s just more accurate because they pick up things the EDD doesn’t,” he said.

The Inland Empire got a boost on Friday, when BMW opened a new 326,000-square-foot regional parts distribution center in Redlands, which will employ more than 90 workers.

California’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in five and a half years last month, but employers added just 700 jobs.

December’s jobless rate of 7  percent was down from 7.2  percent in November and 8.3  percent a year earlier. Last month’s lackluster employment gain landed well below the 82,800 jobs that were created in November. But the Golden State still added 320,300 non-farm jobs over the year, at an annual growth rate of 2.1  percent. Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., expects December’s state employment numbers to be revised upward to more than 20,000 jobs. He said California’s annual job gains for 2014 were good.

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