Kidsdata.org provides the number and percentage of unemployed people in the labor force (ages 16 and older). Data are available at the national, state, county, and city levels. These data come from a statewide survey of households, which counts a person as unemployed if he/she does not have a job, is able and available to work, and has looked for a job in the week that includes the 12th of the month. The same survey counts as employed any person who worked one hour or more during the week in question.
For more information on the definitions of employed and unemployed, see the California Employment Development Department's definition of terms.The unemployment rate does not count "discouraged workers," the term used for those who have stopped seeking work because they do not believe that they will find a job. Nor does it gauge underemployment, which exists when a person who works part-time would prefer to work full-time. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics' glossary for more information.
In 2010, more than a third (36%) of California children lived in families where no parent had full-time employment (1). Unemployment reduces family income and thus can cause financial instability. Financial stress has direct impacts on parents and, in addition to limiting their ability to meet their family's material needs, can affect their ability to meet their children's emotional needs. Consequently, family financial hardship can contribute to behavioral and social problems in children, and compound poor physical health (2, 3). Children who experience economic hardship when they are young, or who experience extreme and prolonged hardship, are at greatest risk for poor outcomes (2). Children with unemployed parents also are at higher risk of experiencing homelessness and repeating a grade in school than children whose parents are stably employed (4, 5). In addition, long-term parental unemployment is associated with decreased earnings when children enter the work force (5).
For more information on unemployment, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
- Kidscount. (2012). Children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment (Percent) – 2008 to 2010. Retrieved from: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Trend.aspx?order=a&loc=1%2c6&ind=5043&dtm=11453&tf=35%2c38%2c133
- National Center for Children in Poverty. (2009). Ten important questions about children and economic hardship. Retrieved from: http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_829.html#question7
- Redd, Z., et al. (2011). Two generations in poverty: Status and trends among parents and children in the United States, 2000-2010 (Child Trends Research Brief No. 2011-25). Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=two-generations-in-poverty-status-and-trends-among-parents-and-children-in-the-united-states-2000-2010-2
- Lovell, P., & Isaacs, J. B. (2010). Families of the recession: Unemployed parents and their children. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2010/0114_families_recession_isaacs.aspx
- Child Trends. (2010). Secure parental employment. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=secure-parental-employment
California faces continued challenges to mitigating the effects of the poor economy: the state unemployment insurance system is insolvent; the state is not producing enough college graduates to meet the future needs of its economy; federal funding for income support designed to help families weather financial hardship has declined; and many segments of the economy have lost substantial numbers of jobs and may not recover (1, 2, 5).
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could influence unemployment include:
- Addressing insolvency in the unemployment insurance system to maintain stability and protect workers and employers (1)
- Retooling state K-12 and higher education systems to improve college eligibility, participation, and graduation rates, particularly among Latino, African American, and American Indian/Alaska Native students (2, 3, 7)
- Ensuring adequate federal and state funding to support families in hard times, such as cash assistance, subsidized jobs, and other assistance through Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) and CalWORKS (4, 5)
- Supporting effective job training and workforce development programs that align with the job market (6)
For more policy ideas and research on this topic see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or visit the Urban Institute, California Budget Project, or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Family Income & Poverty, Housing Affordability, and Homelessness.
Sources for this narrative:
- California Legislative Analyst’s Office. (2010). California’s other budget deficit: The unemployment insurance fund insolvency. Retrieved from: http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2010/ssrv/unemp_ins/ui_102010.aspx
- Johnson, et al. (2009). Closing the gap: Meeting California’s need for college graduates. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_409HJR.pdf
- Jobs for the Future. (2010). Good data, strong commitment, better policy, improved outcomes. Retrieved from: http://www.jff.org/publications/education/good-data-strong-commitment-better-polic/1046
- Pavetti, et al. (2010). Creating a safety net that works when the economy doesn’t: The role of the Food Stamp and TANF Programs. Urban Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412068_food_stamps_tanf.pdf
- Schott, et al. (2010). Federal TANF funding shrinking while need remains high. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved from: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3345
- Baran, et al. (2010). Implementing the National Fund for Workforce Solutions: Second annual national evaluation report. National Fund for Workforce Solutions. Retrieved from: http://nfwsolutions.org/sites/default/files/2009-10%20National%20Evaluation%20Report-FINAL.pdf
- Oakes, et al. (2006). Removing the roadblocks: Fair college opportunities for all California students. UC ACCORD/UCLA IDEA. Retrieved from: http://idea.gseis.ucla.edu/publications/documents/removing-the-roadblocks-to-college-report
In 2011, more than 2 million Californians, 11.7% of the state workforce, were unemployed. Although this percentage is slightly lower than it was in 2010, unemployment figures from recent years are much higher than those earlier in the decade (i.e., 2000-2008). The trend in California's unemployment mirrors that of the US, though, since 2000, California's unemployment figures have been consistently higher. Unemployment varies widely across California counties, ranging from 7.4% to 29.7% in 2011. City-level rates also show wide variation.