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Unemployment continues to rise

Economy: Number of defaulted homes decreases, jobless rate increases locally

Posted: September 9, 2010 9:38 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Fewer Santa Clarita residents are losing homes to foreclosure compared to last year, but more are without jobs, according to city numbers.

Businesses, meanwhile, are filling some commercial vacancies, but not enough to make a significant dent in the SCV’s high vacancy rates.

The glimmers of hope revealed by the city of Santa Clarita’s economic snapshot for June, released this week, were overshadowed by the Great Recession’s lasting realities.

Santa Clarita’s unemployment rate bumped up a tenth of a percent to 7.6 from May to June. That number was also higher than the 6.9 percent rate reported in June 2009.

“We’ve seen unemployment going up the past couple of months,” said Jason Crawford, the city’s economic development manager, on Thursday.

Crawford attributed the job losses to layoffs at local school districts and temporary census workers.

The national unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in August.

The number of defaulted homes in June fell 45 percent from June 2009, which continues to follow a downward trend. City data recorded 127 notices of default filed this June, compared to 232 last year.

“Less people are having to go through foreclosure,” Crawford said. “That’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is attempting to tackle the national foreclosure crisis with an effort to assist homeowners who owe more on their properties than their homes are worth.

Starting Tuesday, the Federal Housing Administration will permit lenders to give these borrowers refinanced loans backed by the government. The lenders will be required to forgive at least 10 percent of the original mortgage amount.

Nearly half of the 1.3 million homeowners who had enrolled in the Obama administration’s main mortgage-relief program — overseen by the Treasury Department — have already fallen out over the past year.

Commercial vacancies continue to be one of Crawford’s biggest headaches.

Nine certificates of occupancy were issued in June, permitting occupancy in more than 20,258 square feet of space, mostly offices.

The number of certificates is up from previous months, but vacancy rates remain high.

The valley’s office vacancy rate was 19.7 percent, retail was 7.7 percent and industrial space measured at close to 5.7 percent.

“It’s a difficulty and an opportunity,” Crawford said. “We need vacancies to move these companies in, but we need to move these companies in to drop the vacancies.”

Economic recovery lags, but economist Mark Schniepp, director of the Santa Barbara-based California Economic Forecast, expects a turnaround in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Santa Clarita’s got a little more potential to rebound once things get going,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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