Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
January 23, 2016 – 9:55 AM

  • California ended 2015 with employment gain
  • Yet recovery from recession has been uneven
  • High-skill and low-skill jobs grow, middling jobs stagnant

Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a mixed economic message to the Legislature last week – hailing California’s strong recovery from the Great Recession but warning it could quickly turn sour.

The good news: “Two million jobs have been created, and unemployment has dropped in half.”

The caveat: “Here at the state Capitol we often think we have more control over things than we actually do. But the truth is that global events, markets and policies set the pace and shape the world we live in.”

A day after Brown delivered his sober-sided message, urging legislators to build budget reserves against the likelihood of recession, his Department of Employment released job data for December, closing out 2015.

Superficially, the numbers looked good. The state added another 60,400 jobs during the final month of the year, raising the total for 2015 to about 265,000 and the recovery over six years to 2.2 million.

The state’s unemployment rate in December, 5.8 percent of the workforce, was a full percentage point lower than a year earlier and less than half of what it was during the depths of recession.

A deeper dive into economic data, however, reveals that the recovery has been uneven, both socio-economically and geographically.

Since 2007, for instance, the San Francisco Bay Area, with 20 percent of the state’s population, has generated well over half of the state’s employment growth. Conversely, Los Angeles County, with a 25 percent of the population, has produced less than 10 percent of the new jobs.

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