At least the Orange County Register didn’t use the word unexpected. The state of California’s economic crisis continues to deepen as jobless claims rose to their highest level in years — and triple that of just two years ago in the beginning of the recession:
Unemployment claims in California hit 768,709 in April, a modern-day record and the highest during this recession, state Employment Development Department officials report.
The number comes after the U.S. Senate went into its Memorial Day recess without acting on a bill that would allow at least the more recently unemployed to continue to get extended jobless benefits.
Just two years ago in April — a year into California’s recession — the unemployed filed 254,123 claims for benefits, EDD stats show. This April, that number more than tripled as the state remained at a record 12.6% unemployment rate, third highest in the country.
One problem is that many of these unemployed are going to run out of government benefits after 99 weeks of joblessness. The Senate didn’t get around to the extension bill, because now many people on both sides of the aisle are questioning whether the government should or even can go on extending benefits. The bill on the floor violates Pay-Go (again), and borrowing money to fund the jobless means heavier taxes and fees down the road. The pricing signals contribute to pessimism in the investor class, which in turn depresses opportunity for growth.
That’s the real problem facing the nation as a whole as well as California as a state. Until the governments at both levels stop penalizing innovation, investment, and growth, we will see less of all three and fewer jobs being created. The best way to reverse this trend is to start dismantling government interventions and seizure of capital and send strong signals of lower taxes and public debt in the future. The longer it takes the Obama administration to realize this, the worse it will get — and it will get worse first and most in California.
Does this mean that California may be ripe for a conservative message in the midterm elections? I’d normally be skeptical, but the decline has picked up speed in the Golden State. The decimation of Central Valley agriculture for the benefit of the smelt may combine with the ineptitude of Democrats on the economy to trigger a realignment in California politics. That happened briefly in 1978 with Proposition 13 under much milder economic conditions in the state. If this doesn’t turn around soon, voters in California may end the multi-decade grip on power Democrats have had in the nation’s most populous state … or the population may just start moving elsewhere entirely.