Abcarian: Is “California sober” a real thing, or just an excuse to keep getting high?
It’s hard to imagine there’s a single Californian who doesn’t at least feel a bit of hope in an April report by the California Department of Finance that says the state is on the road to recovery.
The state has returned to the black: In fiscal year 2012, the annualized rate of new jobs was 56,099, the lowest in at least the past half a century, thanks in part to a major recovery from the recession.
And the unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, the lowest since before the recession.
But is the state really “sane” or is California simply in denial about what’s happening?
Abcarian: California Is Still in ‘A Very Bad Place’
At the state’s statehouse in Sacramento, some political insiders have been pushing this line about recovering, but it just isn’t quite true.
“California is in a very bad place,” said Mark Baldassare, the former director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. “We have too many people working with jobs and no jobs that require skill, experience and knowledge.”
“It’s not surprising,” said Baldassare. “It’s just hard to get out of this thing, because you have people stuck at work and not making enough money.”
The state had the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation before the recession. The national rate peaked at 12.3 percent in September 2009. Now, the national rate has fallen to 8.7 percent.
But California still has more job openings than workers, and the Golden State’s rate of unemployment is now nearly twice as high as the national rate.
The most recent reports also show that the state is lagging in other areas: It’s lagging in innovation, education and in economic growth per capita.
And while the overall unemployment rate is below the national average, California’s rates are slightly higher.
“California was not in the’recovery,'” said Baldassare. “We are