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October 16, 2009, Sacramento Bee

California, Sacramento unemployment fall (to 12.2%)

California and Sacramento's unemployment rates fell last month, even though the state was hit with another discouraging round of job losses.

The statewide unemployment rate fell to 12.2 percent in September, the Employment Development Department said today. That was a tenth of a point below the revised August rate of 12.3 percent.

The state lost 39,300 payroll jobs during September - a disappointing result after a relatively miniscule 7,200 jobs disappeared in August. Many economists say the payroll numbers are more reliable indicators than the unemployment rate, which is based on a smaller survey.

Sacramento's unemployment rate fell to 11.8 percent in September, down two-tenths of a point.

The region added 200 jobs during the month.

The job market got a boost when school started. Some 3,900 jobs were added at area school districts.

But the construction sector lost 1,600 jobs in Sacramento.

Howard Roth, chief economist at the state Department of Finance, called the report "mixed." Job losses are still lower than earlier this year - when 60,000 or more jobs were disappearing per month - but "apparently they're not moderating as much as I thought," he said.

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Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, noted that although schools have opened, there are 15,200 fewer school district jobs around the state than a year ago. Also, employment at city and county agencies fell 18,100 from a year ago.

"This is certainly the month that government job losses came home in the numbers," he said.

At the EDD job-center office on Broadway in Sacramento, unemployed bookkeeper Marlena Turner was stunned to hear that the unemployment rate had fallen.

"It seems like every time you turn around, people are getting laid off," said Turner, 62, who lost her job in February.

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