The New Normal in California Employment; and Mr. Peguese’ Christmas Presents

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

As we come to the end of 2012, California is in better shape today in terms of unemployment rate and payroll jobs than the previous few years.

The latest state unemployment rate, through October 2012, is 10.1%, down from 11.5% in October 2011 and 12.5% in October 2010. Payroll jobs are at 14.4 million, a gain of 256,000 jobs over the year and  a gain of 574,900 jobs since the recovery formally began in February 2010.

Yet  as we argued for some time at Fox and Hounds to focus on the unemployment rate and even to focus on payroll numbers is to miss what is really going on in California employment. The unemployment rate becomes less and less relevant each year, as the number of part time workers grows and as the labor force participation rate declines.

Currently there are roughly 1 million workers in California who are counted as employed but involuntarily working part-time. The labor force participation is below 64%, the lowest rate in decades.  Workers without jobs are not counted as unemployed as they drop out of looking for work.

2012 is likely to be remembered as a year in which we continued our path to the New Normal in California Employment: more and more part-time work rather than full-time work, more and more contingent employment through staffing companies, more and more independent contracting, greater volatility, decreased security among all occupations.  Mr. Blake Konczal, director of the Fresno Workforce Investment Board, points us to the statement by Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross,  “Coffee is for closers”, a bottom line mindset that defines all occupations today.

We’re all temps now.

Presents from Mr. Peguese
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 8.15.44 AM

On a more cheerful note, as we head into Christmas 2012, we receive presents from Mr. Bruno Peguese, the land development specialist at the BART transit system and our Fox and Hounds Motown music expert. Each Christmas Mr. Peguese points us to Motown songs on YouTube that he guarantees we cannot watch without getting a smile on our face. These videos are filled with joy and soul.

The first video is the Spinners performing Rubberband Man on The Midnight Special, the variety show that aired on Friday nights (NBC) during the 1970s.  Rubberband Man was released in 1976 and reached #2 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.

As a Spinners extra, Mr. Peguese selects this video of the Spinners singing Working My Way Back to You Girl.  It also features the Soul Train dancers. Now tell me that you watched this video without smiling (or getting up to dance). That’s what I thought.

Mr. Peguese also believes that the holidays would not be complete without  Color Him Father  by the Winstons. The Winstons was a 1960s R&B group out of Washington D.C.  Color Him Father was released in 1969. We couldn’t find a performance of the Winstons from that time, but here is the single.

Mr. Peguese did find this more recent performance below of Color Him Father, which tells it all.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.

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