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Jobless rate near all-time high

Economy: One in 12 Santa Clarita workers unemployed in November; economic director disappointed

Posted: December 19, 2010 10:37 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

One in 12 among Santa Clarita’s work force were jobless in November, state data shows.

Last month’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent from October’s 7.8 percent within the city, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.

Despite apparent boons to the economy, unemployment inched toward its all-time high of 8.2 percent. That level was reached in March.

Jason Crawford, the city’s economic development director, said the data was “disappointing” given recent store openings that promised to give a lift to the stagnant economy locally.

“I was surprised,” he said. “We’ll obviously be working with the state to see what exactly caused that.”

Westfield Valencia Town Center opened 40 stores with its expansion The Shops at The Patios. That opening brought about 700 new jobs, mostly retail.

And Valley Produce Market, a grocer, hired about 75 workers when it opened in November.

Still, that wasn’t enough to stave off rising unemployment.

Holiday hiring coupled with the opening of big-box baby goods retailer Buy Buy Baby this week should make for stronger employment in December, Crawford said.

“December numbers will be better,” he said.

The city hopes next year will be better still with the approval of a new enterprise zone that will blanket much of the Santa Clarita Valley, not just within city limits.

Enterprise zones give state tax breaks to businesses that hire disadvantaged workers, such as those who were laid off.
Other new hires that can bring employers tax breaks include veterans and convicts.

“That will be a great asset and a real driving force in bringing those higher-paying, professional-level jobs to Santa Clarita,” Crawford said.

The November unemployment rate for the city was higher than the same month in 2009, which was 7.5 percent.

Statewide, more than 2 million Californians were unemployed in November. One in eight of the state’s workers, or 12.4 percent, were jobless.

“We have seen a year-over-year increase in jobs in the state,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement released Friday.

“However, these gains are fragile, and it is important that government do everything possible to boost private-sector employment.”

Nationwide, unemployment increased to 9.8 percent last month.


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