U.S. News

California jobless rate unchanged at 12.4 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 12.4 percent in September and the state’s nonfarm payrolls shed 63,600 jobs during the month, state officials said on Friday in a report underscoring the grip hard times have on the most populous U.S. state’s economy.

California’s September jobless rate was steady from August, up from a 12.1 percent a year earlier and significantly higher than the month’s national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, the report said.

Nonfarm payroll gains in August were revised up, for a total increase of 10,700 jobs for the month. The state’s nonfarm payrolls in September, however, were down by 43,700 jobs, or by 0.3 percent, from a year earlier.

California voters will elect a successor to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on November 2 and job growth is a top issue in the race for his seat pitting Democrat and state Attorney General Jerry Brown against Republican Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay Inc.

California’s economy has suffered much more than those of nearly all other states because of the housing market slump and mortgage crisis and analysts expect the state will only slowly recover as its population expands amid weak hiring.

California’s unemployment rate will stay above 12 percent through the first half of next year, above 10 percent until the end of 2013 and near 9 percent in 2015, the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific said this week in its quarterly forecast report.

“Although California will add 210,000 jobs over the next 12 months, this is less than one-sixth the total lost, and is a very weak start in a long, five-year recovery,” the report said.

Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Diane Craft