Last Friday’s monthly jobs report through May 2014 showed payroll jobs increasing by 18,300 over the month and 341,000 payroll jobs over the year. In the more than four years since February 2010, California has had steady monthly job gains, which through May have reached 1,327,000 added payroll jobs.

How long can the job gains last? After more than four years of adding jobs, is it likely that we will see an employment downturn in the near future?

Once again, we can turn to the state Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information Division (LMID) for insight. Economist Paul Wessen has compiled the following graph that summarizes the length of growth of each California employment expansion since 1960.

bernick1960As Mr. Wessen explains, “the current employment expansion in California entered its 51st month in May 2014. Since 1960, California has experienced four expansions that have lasted longer than this, as measured by the trough to peak in total nonfarm payrolls”. These four expansions:

July 1960 to December 1969: 113 months

April 1975 to February 1980: 58 months

December 1982 to July 1990: 91 months

May 1993 to March 2001: 94 months

The 1950s in California saw a run of low unemployment, generally under 5%, and employment expansion that ended only in the recession of the late 1950s. In the fifty years since, we’ve had our employment ups and downs, but had employment expansions of over 90 months each following the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s. So we still may have some way to go in the current expansion.


Last Thursday, Anna and I took our second trip to the taping of Fashion Police, the E! Network show featuring Joan Rivers. I wrote about our first visit last summer, and what Joan’s persistence and craft can teach California’s workforce community.

Once again, Joan did not disappoint in displaying the craft and professionalism that sets her apart. She patiently answered questions from the audience about how she advanced in the industry and kept moving ahead. When asked how she was approached about Fashion Police, she explained that nobody came to her (“they wouldn’t seek out a woman in her seventies to host a show”), rather she had the confidence to move it forward.

She and the show’s head writer, Mr. Tony Tripoli engaged the audience during the breaks, rather than retreating to the dressing room. Joan recounted her years as an opening act in Las Vegas for Bobby Vinton, Tony Bennett and other singers, and why she has gone out of her way to be considerate to other opening acts since.

Over the thirty five years that I’ve held various elected and appointed offices in local and state government, I’ve collected many photos. A few years ago, I recognized how ridiculous and empty it was to display these photos, and took them down. Except for a few of the older, quirky ones (campaigning with Kevin Starr for Supervisor in 1984, Gray Davis’ campaign for Controller in 1986, handing out leaflets with Donna in my first BART race in 1988), I threw away most of them or put them in storage.

But when you next stop by my office in San Francisco, you will see the photograph below, as one of the few displayed.

joanrivers2Fellow “Joan Rangers”, let us gather together and give our “Joan Rangers Salute” to Joan, as the life force that she is.