Loss of census jobs extends unemployment line 

New misery is being poured on hapless local job seekers, with more than 1,000 positions disappearing from San Francisco last month.

Unemployment has nearly doubled in San Francisco since international credit markets failed in late 2008.

The City’s rate fell from a near-record 10.3 percent in March to 9.2 percent in May, state figures show. But that positive trend stalled in June, when 1,100 local jobs were lost and 1,000 additional city residents entered or re-entered the job market.

There are now more than 43,000 unemployed residents in San Francisco, which has a population of roughly 815,000, California Employment Development Department figures show.

The work-force carnage wreaked last month pushed the local unemployment level up to 9.6 percent, which is similar to the national figure but several percentage points healthier than California’s average.

The loss of temporary U.S. census positions was blamed for a substantial chunk of recent job losses, the state’s employment department said in a statement released Friday.

Census offices were required to hire field counters, office staff and managers from the area they would be surveying, providing jobs to thousands of unemployed residents.

San Francisco resident and local census office manager Alex Darr said there were at least 10 applications for every position that was hired, reflecting the real need for jobs.

“It caught us a little by surprise,” he said. “We had a higher proportion of highly educated people.”

Darr said many of them, himself included, were grateful for the work.

But Darr and roughly 4,300 other census workers in the area — 3,000 in San Francisco and 1,300 in San Mateo County — are coming to the end of their temporary employment.

Many already lost their jobs, with a large chunk of census work wrapping up last month.

Silvia Allegretto, a labor economist at UC Berkeley, said the layoffs are coming at a terrible time.

“The private sector is not turning out jobs to lead us to strong recovery,” she said. “[Census work] was in all communities, so it was a nice little boost, but it’s too short.”

Tony Winnicker, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s spokesman, described The City’s unemployment rate as “stubbornly and unacceptably high,” but said “we continue to do better” than most of California.

On Thursday, Newsom’s administration will outline new local stimulus proposals to planning commissioners, including an effort to finance construction of new infrastructure.

Out of work

June statistics from the state’s employment department:

Civilian labor force (seasonally adjusted): 18,314,500

Employment (seasonally adjusted): 16,070,000

Unemployment (seasonally adjusted): 2,244,500

Unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted): 12.3 percent

Total nonfarm industry employment (seasonally adjusted): 13,880,700

Average hourly wage in first quarter of 2010: $23.42

Source: California Employment Development Department

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