The March of California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

California’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund  has continued to go deeper and deeper in debt through 2010-a debt of $7.6 billion at present, projected now to grow to $18.4 billion by the end of 2010. But 2010 has not been all negative for the Fund.

This year has seen advancements in a series of  Fund Information Technology projects that should improve call center operations, enable claimants to access their records and file and check claims via the internet, and enable the state to pay claims electronically and with greater security.

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Paging Professor Wagstaff

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

In the 1932 movie, Horse Feathers, Groucho Marx plays Professor Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College. Professor Wagstaff decides to recruit  two older students, who he mistakenly believes to be professional football players, to enroll in Huxley and help Huxley defeat its rival Darwin. Chico (Baravelli, the iceman) and Harpo (Pinky, the dogcatcher) enroll at Darwin, where they, with Groucho, Zeppo and Connie Bailey, the "college widow",  predictably create chaos at the college.

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Positive Resource Center at a Time of Job Scarcity

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

For the past year, each announced job opening in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area has attracted tens of applicants, usually hundreds of applicants. The great surplus of applicants has been across occupations and across sectors: waiters, administrative assistants, lawyers, accountants, loan officers, staffing companies-you name it.

So what is the role of the job training/job placement agency in such a time when there are so few jobs?

Positive Resource Center (PRC) is one of the premier community job agencies in California. It is located on Market Street near Fourth, and has been in operation for twenty three years. It focuses on individuals affected by or at risk for HIV/AIDs, and serves around 2500 individuals annually.

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The Storyline of This Recession in California

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

The storyline of this recession in California has yet to find its place in California literature. It will over the next decade; and it will be a storyline very different than those of  the previous economic downturns over the past 70 years.

Our thinking about California recessions and depressions has been greatly influenced by novels and movies. When we think of the Depression we think of the Joads, uprooted from their land by economic forces beyond their control, driven from Oklahoma to California to be part of a reserve army of other uprooted farmers.

The Grapes of Wrath, first as a novel published in 1939 and later as a 1940 movie directed by John Ford fixed the Depression as due to the uncontrolled workings of the market economy, and helped cement the Keynesian consensus that has governed California and the nation for most time since.

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Will Hiring Ever Return in California?

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

Will Hiring Ever Return in California?

That’s a question policymakers, job seekers and friends and relatives of job seekers are asking in the wake of the recent state unemployment numbers released a few weeks ago. Despite some attempts to put a positive spin on the numbers (the unemployment rate went down from 12.6% to 12.4%, the payroll jobs increased by 28,300) the numbers showed an economy that remains sluggish in terms of hiring.

The payroll job gain was the result entirely of additions in federal government employment, which were the temporary census jobs. Private sector jobs showed a net decline, as did jobs in state and local government.

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The Changing Job Landscape for California’s Media Access Office

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

The Media Access Office (MAO) was founded in Hollywood in 1979 by Fern Field Brooks, and Performers with Disabilities, a group of experienced and aspiring entertainment professionals. The group included performers with a range of physical conditions (wheelchair users, amputees, hearing impaired, sight impaired) as well as neurological conditions (performers with Down syndrome, autism, Tourette syndrome). 

MAO set as its missions to increase employment opportunities in front of the camera, as well as to change the way that persons with disabilities were portrayed in the movies and television. 

MAO grew slowly during the 1990s and early 2000s from a small non-profit into a statewide program under the direction of  and funding from the Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons and its longtime director, Catherine Kelly Baird. In the past few years, MAO has downsized considerably due to state budget cuts. Still it remains very active in both the north and south of the state.

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Federal Government Employment Is Climbing in California, While State and Local Government Employment Is Shrinking

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

Total government employment in California has not changed significantly over the past few years.

But this total employment number masks a sharp difference between federal government employment in California, which has actually grown during the Recession, and local and state employment, which has shrunk, as shown on the chart below.

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California’s Explosion in Involuntary Part-Time Employment

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

The number of  unemployed in California, the rate of unemployment, the average duration of employment: all of these indicators have risen dramatically since 2007. However, there is a further less-known job indicator that also has arisen dramatically, and that may have more to do with stalling a job recovery in California than any other: the number of workers involuntarily working part-time.

The table below shows the explosion of involuntary part-time employment in California since summer 2007. It was compiled from data provided by economist Paul Wessen of EDD’s Labor Market Information Division.

Californians Who Work Part-Time But Seek Full Time Work (April 2005-April 2010)

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Balboa Island

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

When I started posting, I told our publisher, Joel Fox, that I’d only write  on the dynamics of jobs in California. But I think he’ll indulge me on the post below about a segment of California past-and hopefully future.

Donna and I were at UC Irvine recently, and took the opportunity with our oldest daughter Sonia to drive to Balboa Island.

From the university to the Island is a short drive straight down Jamboree. The hilltops above Jamboree are filled with oversized condos and apartment complexes. But as you cross the Pacific Coast Highway, the road narrows to a two lane bridge, the condos and apartments disappear, and you find yourself on Marine street, the main street for Balboa Island.

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The City of the Long Term Unemployed in California

Michael Bernick
Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, a Milken Institute Fellow and former Director of the California Employment Development Department

Not only have the rates of unemployment and underemployment (particularly involuntary part-time work) increased dramatically in California since 2007, but so also has the average duration of unemployment. In fact, as the chart below illustrates, long term unemployment (employment for 27 weeks or over), has increased more rapidly than other unemployment measures both in total numbers of Californians and percent of the unemployed .

Unemployment by Duration: California,  March 2006-March 2010

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