The difference between 5.9 percent and 9.3 percent

99

Twelve months and 78,200 jobs.
That’s how long it took California’s unemployment rate to rise
3.4 percentage points. And that’s the number of jobs this state
lost between December 2007 and December 2008.
Twelve months and 78,200 jobs.

That’s how long it took California’s unemployment rate to rise 3.4 percentage points. And that’s the number of jobs this state lost between December 2007 and December 2008.

In San Joaquin County, the news is even worse: a 13 percent unemployment rate in December, ranking the county 44th among the state’s 58 counties. We’ve gone from a 9.4 percent jobless rate in December 2007 to 13 percent now.

And the cruelest of the cruel numbers: In this county, we’ve gone from 28,200 people who want work but can’t find it to 40,000.

Jobs in real estate are down more than 14 percent. Jobs in construction are off nearly 8 percent. And jobs in finance are off 8.4 percent. All of those categories can be tied right back to the collapse of the housing market.

We’ve been through downturns before, but this one is especially vicious, because it is so broadly based. Virtually every segment of the economy – save perhaps those auctioning foreclosure houses – is suffering.

There are moves afoot to extend unemployment benefits. That should be a given. The massive federal stimulus package being discussed in Washington is being targeted, we’re told, to tax cuts and to spending in ways that will create the most jobs the most quickly. And to projects that are sorely needed. Bridges. Roads. Schools. Infrastructure projects that are shovel-ready, provide decent jobs and are really needed by communities across the land.

This will provide some relief. Maybe.

The $350 billion already pumped into the banking industry has done little to cure our banking ills and nothing to cure our rapidly worsening employment ills. There’s a growing suspicion the money has just been frittered away. Another $350 billion is about to be disbursed, with more oversight this time, we should hope.

And the $825 billion Obama plan – or whatever the number ends up being – is supposed to be on the president’s desk by Presidents Day in mid-February.

All this talk about what’s coming is small comfort for those out of work now, those about to run out of unemployment benefits and those who’ve simply run out of the optimism it takes to find a job.

This editorial first appeared in the Stockton Record on Jan. 28.

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