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Five Ways California Can Improve Its Dismal Unemployment Numbers

Nandini Ruparel |
March 26, 2013 | 11:54 p.m. PDT

Assistant News Editor

California's jobless rate remained at 9.8% in January, making it the worst in the nation, along with Rhode Island, in unemployment numbers. These numbers also come after severe tax hikes were ushered in by the November elections. Here are some ways that California can get its numbers up, barring just sitting, waiting and wishing:

1. Shale oil-- Controversy surrounds shale oil, because there are environmental concerns about drilling for shale oil, or "fracking," near earthquake fault lines. For example, the Sierra Club is suing the state of California because it believes that the state is not properly enforcing environmental laws. However, a recent University of Southern California study shows that exploitation of shale oil to create anywhere from half a million to two million jobs. Furthermore, it could add billions of dollars to tax revenues. 

2. Tax cuts --following a $50 billion tax increase in November that took effect in January, job creation in California has slowed significantly. It currently has the highest income tax in the entire nation as well. Highest unemployment in the U.S. and highest income tax in the U.S.? Fixing this will alleviate the problem of skilled workers moving out of the state to place with a lower income tax and improve job creation. California needs to reduce taxes if it wants stop being the best in the US at the worst things. 

3. Improve transportation--California lost the most jobs (5,500 to be exact) in the trade, transportation, and utilities sectors. Adding public transportation routes, building new freeways, and improving roads can add significant numbers of jobs in those industries as well as improve public transport for the majority of Californians. If California does not intend to reduce taxes, the government should invest those funds in functions that both improve quality of life and job numbers.

4. Entice business to stay--as a sort of corollary to number two, California needs to stop forcing businesses to leave. For example. in LA itself, sales tax hikes and certain measures have caused businesses to flee. Measure B (requiring porn actors to wear condoms) gave the porn industry to move elsewhere they were more welcome. California needs to stop alienating businesses if it wants jobs to stay and be created.

5. Stop pretending that there's not a problem--Gov. Jerry Brown has done a lot for the state, but saying that people who are concerned are "declinists" is just hiding the problem. Along with him is Jerry Nickelsburg, a UCLA economist, who says that California is "expecting growth to pick up in the latter part of the year." It doesn't matter when you're expecting growth to pick up--California should be acting on the numbers we're seeing now.

Reach reporter Nandini Ruparel here.



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