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City’s jobless rate dips in February

Jobs exist but the problem is connecting people with the openings

Posted: March 21, 2014 6:29 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2014 6:29 p.m.

Like a ping pong ball, Santa Clarita’s jobless rate has been bouncing along month to month — and true to form it dropped to 5.4 percent in February, according to a report from the California Employment Development Department on Friday.

The rate was 5.5 percent in January and 5.3 percent in December 2013.

While not making any recent strides in reducing the number of unemployed, Santa Clarita is almost a full

percentage point lower than one year, ago when it recorded 6.3 percent.

And its unemployment rate sits far below neighboring and similar-sized cities in Los Angeles County.

The bigger problem seems to be in connecting those offering local jobs with those seeking them, said one local source.

That issue was also recently cited by local employer Ronin Engineering in Valencia. Its owner, John Hewitson, said finding key employees has been a big challenge for his firm.

“There’s plenty of work in the Santa Clarita Valley. We get a ridiculous number of job leads that come in every day,” said Keri Aaver, director of the local WorkSource Center. “I see a bigger problem of employers finding the job-seekers and the job-seekers finding the jobs.”

But, she added, the center is seeing people gain employment right and left.

While the free job resource center does receive requests for help filling many entry-level job openings, it is filling all kinds of positions now, Aaver said.

“We’ve been filling positions up to over $200,000 a year and everything in between,” she said. “We’re seeing every type of job.”

What Aaver also witnesses is those struggling with long-term unemployment, as well as the recently laid off.

Through no fault of their own, she said, people are still losing their jobs in large layoffs by companies downsizing or outsourcing their work.

Those who are laid off are sometimes depressed and need a little recovery period before they’re ready to successfully sell themselves to another employer, Aaver said.

The other piece of the puzzle is figuring out what skills are transferrable to another job, and that’s a bit of a learning curve, she said.

California’s unemployment rate dipped ever so slightly to 8.0 percent in February, down from 8.1 percent the month before.

Many sources report the longer-term unemployed have just stopped looking for work.

And with the federal extension program for unemployment benefits ended Dec. 28, 2013, Aaver said her center is seeing a percentage of clients coming in who are very stressed because their benefits are ending in the next few weeks.

Even as job gains picked up in California, ironically, more people were also collecting unemployment benefits in the state in February.

The EDD reported 539,062 people receiving regular unemployment, compared to 495,273 last month and 487,497 last year.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 6.7 percent in February.



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