California economy lost 20,300 jobs in January |

California economy lost 20,300 jobs in January

Alex Veiga, Associated Press Business Writer

LOS ANGELES ” California lost 20,300 jobs in January as employers sliced payrolls while grappling with the slowing national economy and stubborn housing slump, state officials said today.

The January job figures followed a revised gain of 11,400 jobs in December, the Employment Development Department said.

Revised annual job figures showed the state added only 14,900 payroll jobs in the 12-month period ended Jan. 31, a paltry 0.1 percent increase.

The once-booming construction sector accounted for the most job cuts, shedding 69,300 positions, a 7.6 percent annual drop.

“These revisions, while not unexpected, highlight the probability that economic growth in 2008 will be lower than expected, which in turn will intensify the pressures on state and local budgets,” Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, wrote in a research brief.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he planned to spend more than $10 million on job training for construction workers left idle due to the housing slump.

The latest state figures reflect worsening employment trends across the U.S., where payrolls lost 17,000 jobs in January ” the first national decline since 2003.

The U.S. economy has been slowing for several months under the strain of the housing slump, rising energy costs and a credit crisis in the financial sector, raising fears of a recession.

About 1.1 million Californians were looking for work in January, unchanged from December, but up by 182,000 since January 2007, the state agency said.

More than half were laid off, while 115,800 people chose to leave their job. The rest were either temporarily employed or new job seekers.

The unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, unchanged from December’s revised rate. The rate in January 2007 was 5.0 percent.

In all, more than 15.2 million people in California held payroll jobs in January.

Jobs were added in January in the natural resources and mining, manufacturing, government and professional and business services sectors.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector accounted for the most new positions, 10,900.

Those gains were offset by losses in construction, educational and health services, financial services, and leisure and hospitality.

The information sector lost the most positions during the month, experiencing a drop of 25,100 jobs.

The construction, manufacturing, information and financial activities sectors lost 141,600 jobs combined in the past year, the state said.

Several other employment sectors, including leisure and hospitality and educational and health services, added a combined 156,500 jobs during the period.

Government accounted for the biggest slice of new jobs in the past year, adding 50,200 positions, a 2 percent jump.

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