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California Unemployment Remained 12.4% in September

California’s unemployment rate, the nation’s third-highest, held at 12.4 percent in September, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

The state lost 63,500 jobs last month, the largest decline in the U.S., the Labor Department said today in a regional and state employment report.

“We had gains in employment and unemployment, so they kind of balance each other out,” Dennis Meyers, principal economist in the state Finance Department, said today in a telephone interview. “It means we’re making very slow progress, like the rest of the nation, to recover.”

The unemployment data come a little more than a week before California voters choose between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman for governor. Both have pledged to increase jobs as the most populous U.S. state struggles to recover from the longest recession since the Great Depression.

California’s jobless rate has been at least 12 percent since August 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The state trails Nevada, which had the highest level at 14.4 percent last month, and Michigan, with 13.1 percent, according to the Labor Department. The national rate was 9.6 percent.

“California benefited disproportionately from the housing boom, and is suffering disproportionately worse from the collapse,” Meyers said. “We have a deeper hole to climb out of than the nation as a whole.”

California’s jobless population climbed by 10,000 to 2.27 million last month from August, according to data released today by the state’s Employment Development Department. The September figure was 69,000 more than a year earlier, the state said.

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