Calif Unemployment Climbs to Record 11.5 Percent

California's unemployment rate climbed to 11.5 percent in May, the highest in modern record-keeping, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday.

The loss of another 69,000 jobs comes as a blow to the state after unemployment dipped slightly to 11.1 percent in April, according to revised figures. The California Employment Development Department said the government posted the largest job declines in the month, down by 14,200 jobs. Every other sector besides education and health services also saw losses.

Although the federal agency reported that 48 states and the District of Columbia saw their unemployment rates rise in May, California's rate was substantially higher than the national rate of 9.4 percent for the month.

Only four states had higher rates: Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

The West had the highest regional jobless rate in the nation, at 10.1 percent, and it was the highest rate since September 1983, when the nation was emerging from a deep recession.

California has lost 885,000 jobs since May 2008, when the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement that with the massive international economic downturn, it's natural the state would see historic job losses.


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"A full recovery will not happen overnight -- it will take time, which only further underscores the need to continue the economic stimulus measures I fought for in the February budget," said Schwarzenegger. "There is no greater priority right now than to stimulate the economy, create jobs and get California back on the road to prosperity."

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has proposed laying off another 5,000 state employees, along with billions of dollars in cuts to education and social welfare programs, to address a $24.3 billion deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

But lawmakers are divided over how to close the gap and could be headed toward another budget standoff, which would further jeopardize the state's precarious finances.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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