CA Still Suffers Second-Worst Jobless Rate
By JOHN SEILER
Buddy, can you spare a job?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today reported that California’s unemployment rate dropped just a bit, from 12.1 percent in August to 11.9 percent in September. But the state still is stuck at second-worst in the nation, behind Nevada’s 13.4 percent.
California also remains almost 3 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
And except for Nevada, California’s nearby competitors are doing much better, with unemployment rates of 9.1 percent in Washington state, 9.6 percent in Oregon, 7.4 percent in Utah, 9.0 percent in Idaho, 9.1 percent in Arizona and 8.5 percent in Texas.
California is what I call the “Sick State of the West.”
Yet on Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown boasted of California’s jobs-creating greatness at the opening of Texas-based Dell computer’s new Research and Development facility in Santa Clara. “California is the world capital of innovation and technology, so it’s only natural that Dell has chosen Santa Clara as the home for its newest Research and Development facility,” Brown said. “This new facility will create hundreds of cutting-edge technology jobs at a time when we need them most. Dell has made a sound investment by expanding in California, and I look forward to further expansions of Dell’s presence here in the Golden State.”
Dell will employ more than 1,500 workers at the new facility. The irony was obvious: a company whose headquarters is in Texas, which so often is being cited for its blockbuster jobs creation, is creating jobs in California.
It’s true that, for 180 IQ computer geniuses, California remains the Shangri-La of work locations. Young hackers want to go nowhere else, and just put up with the high taxes. They want to be around their nerdy peers and enjoy California’s balmy climate and beautiful scenery. And given that most of the new hires will just be sitting in front of computer screens, few environmental problems will be raised by Dell.
This isn’t the “Dirty Energy” that was demonized in the ads a year ago against the proposition that would have effectively killed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which as of yesterday is being imposed with bureaucratic ferocity.
In his remarks at the groundbreaking for the new Dell facility, company founder and CEO Michael Dell actually made the point why California is the place to be for this part of his firm:
“We are making significant and thoughtful investments to develop and acquire industry-leading intellectual property. Silicon Valley is a center of technological innovation and we are looking to recruit from the great talent pool here for high-level jobs in network design, storage development, cloud computing and software development. The new positions we add here are part of more than 1,500 jobs we’re creating in the U.S. this year to help expand our technology solutions portfolio.”
So for Dell, its business HQ is in Texas, its computer geniuses will be in Silicon Valley and its manufacturing in Asia.
But what about the rest of us? What about folks who could support a family on a decent wage in a factory job? They’re still unemployed, or leaving.
For the rest of us, California remains a “post-industrial Hell,” as it was described by Bill Watkins, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University.
By “post-industrial,” he means just what was described above: a state with a few high-paying, green high-technology jobs and service jobs — and low-paying jobs or welfare for everybody else.
Dan Walters touched on that in his column today:
“The Tax Foundation rates Texas, on a variety of issues, as having the nation’s 13th best business climate and California the 49th, ahead of only New York. But New York is home to 57 Fortune 500 companies, followed by 53 in California and 51 in Texas.
“Let’s close with some personal observations, based on several visits to Texas, including a five-day sojourn in South Texas this month.
“South Texas cities such as San Antonio and Austin do not exude recession, as do California’s cities. There are few vacant stores and retail, dining and entertainment venues are hopping.
“The Texas oil industry is booming and hungry for workers.
“Texas highways are wide, smoothly paved and well-maintained, in stark contrast with California’s congested and deteriorating roadways, even though our fuel taxes are nearly twice as high.
“But when it comes to climate and physical beauty, Texas can’t hold a candle to California.”
So there you have it.
All California offers now is Silicon Valley and weather. Everything else is falling apart or leaving.
May 23, 2013