California's unemployment rate ticked up a notch in August, to 12.1% from 12% the month before, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers shed 8,400 jobs from payrolls.
The numbers were little surprise to economists, who had anticipated no growth after national data showed that employers added no jobs nationally in August, when the U.S. unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.1%.
"Businesses are very reluctant to hire people," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo. "The last thing they want to do is hire people and then fire them again a few months later."
California has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, after Nevada, where 13.4% of the people in the labor force are out of work.
California lost jobs in construction, financial activities and government. Sohn says that California's dependence on the real estate industry is going to continue to cause pain until home-building starts again. But with uncertainty throughout the economy, few businesses in any field seem willing to hire.
"Businesses are adopting a wait-and-see attitude," he said.
Jesse Medel just wants a job. The 37-year-old recently got out of prison, and says his chances of finding work are slim, since there are so many other people looking. It's much different than when he last looked for employment, five years ago.
"It's bad out there," he said. "I'm competing against kids with college degrees for entry-level jobs."