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  • ECONOMY

    Local unemployment still rising

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  • SACRAMENTO — Local unemployment rates continued to rise last month, even as the statewide jobless rate remained steady, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.
    In preliminary numbers released Friday, each local community in the High Desert saw unemployment rise by at least a half-percentage point from June to July, and San Bernardino County’s jobless rate jumped from 8.4 percent to 9 percent.
    Adelanto saw the highest spike in unemployment in the Victor Valley, rising nearly a full percentage point from 13.2 in June to 14.1 percent in July. Lenwood (a small community near Barstow) saw unemployment rise by the same amount, from 15.8 to 16.7 percent.
    Apple Valley (9.9 percent), Barstow (11.3 percent), Hesperia (11.7 percent), Victorville (10.9 percent) and Wrightwood (6.3 percent) each saw their jobless rates rise as well.
    The statewide figure of 7.4 percent is seasonally adjusted, while seasonally adjusted local rates are not provided in the state’s monthly report. The unadjusted figure for California is 7.8 percent — still considerably lower than most local jobless rates.
    July was the second straight month where local unemployment rates climbed. A county official said it’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason why.
    “In all my years with the county, I have never heard of one single reason why employment rates went up or down,” said Miguel McQueen, deputy director of the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board. “I would attribute this recent decrease (in employment) to one of three seasonal adjustments. I believe this adjustment is people leaving work for school.”
    McQueen said employment should pick back up during the late-August to October window when manufacturers and retailers begin to ramp up for the holiday season.
    At the state level, two surveys used to calculate the statewide unemployment rate showed different results, the EDD said.
    EDD said its survey of businesses in the state found an increase of about 27,700 jobs. But a federal survey of households used to calculate the unemployment rate found 31,000 fewer jobs in July than in June.
    That leaves the state in a holding pattern, with the same jobless rate as June, although it improved from the 9 percent unemployment in July 2013.
    Educational and health services reported the biggest July jobs increase in the survey of employers, adding 10,900 jobs. The largest decline was in construction, which reported 6,400 fewer jobs in July than a month earlier.
    Michael Bernick, a former EDD director and a fellow at the Milken Institute economic think tank, said the two reports state officials use to measure employment sometimes conflict because they survey different groups.
    But he said a gain of about 27,000 jobs in July is consistent with California’s share of the national economy and reflects people re-entering the job market. The unemployment rate does not include people who have stopped looking for work.
    “We’ve had steady growth since, really, February of 2010,” Bernick said. “This continues the narrative and is pretty much in line with our share of the national economy.”
    — Daily Press Staff Writer Rene De La Cruz and City Editor Kris Reilly, as well as the Associated Press, contributed to this report.
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