Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

California’s unemployment rate has been declining fractionally as its recession-battered economy slowly improves.

After hitting bottom three years ago, the state has added more than a half-million jobs. Its unemployment rate has dropped from over 12 percent to about 10 percent – still one of the nation’s highest, but definitely better.

We’re still a long way from recovering the 1.4 million jobs lost when the housing industry meltdown plunged the state into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

That will take at least two more years, assuming that outside events – such as falling off the “fiscal cliff” or the European economic crisis – don’t plunge us back into recession.

But California’s recovery is also very uneven from geographic and demographic viewpoints. While the economy is hopping in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California’s coastal communities, it’s still struggling in inland and rural California.

The most recent employment data reveal that 34 of our 58 counties have unemployment rates above the state’s average, and the gap is rather stark at the extremes.

While wealthy and overwhelmingly white Marin County’s unemployment rate is under 6 percent, for instance, the residents of poor and mostly Latino Imperial County are five times as likely to be without jobs.

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