Campus: CSU Northridge -- December 14, 2001

Valley Unemployment Claims Hit 5-Year Highs Per Statistics Released By Cal State Northridge's Economists

Demonstrating the double impact of the recession and September's economy-bruising terrorist attacks, unemployment claims in the San Fernando Valley are running at five-year highs and are half or more above levels of just a year ago, according to statistics released by Cal State Northridge economists.

Active state unemployment insurance claims in the San Fernando Valley, the number of people receiving regular benefits, rose 3.6 percent to 21,253 in October, up from 20,518 during September. But more strikingly, the October 2001 tally is nearly 56 percent above October 2000, when just 13,633 people in the Valley were receiving benefits.

Northridge economics professor Daniel Blake, director of the university's San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center, said active unemployment claims in the Valley have been above 20,000 every month from June through October, the most recent month for which data is available. Before this fall, the last time Valley claims topped 20,000 was May 1996 at 20,123.

Blake said the October data is significant because it is the first month to reflect the aftermath of the September terrorist attacks. Although the number of people receiving unemployment in the Valley had fallen from September to October in each of the past five years because of seasonal hiring, Blake said the attacks this year led to the unexpected 3.6 percent increase.

"What we're seeing here is a clear impact of 9/11, and businesses not hiring up as much in anticipation of the holiday season," said Blake. "The question now is will local businesses resume the normal hiring pattern in November and December" that would restore the seasonal trend of falling unemployment at year's end. The November data will not be available until January.

The university's center obtains the unemployment claims data from the state Employment Development Department and aggregates it by zip code to reflect the six-city San Fernando Valley. That area consists of the Valley portion of Los Angeles, Glendale, Burbank, San Fernando, Calabasas and Hidden Hills. The state EDD does not separately report Valley claims data.

The center, part of the College of Business and Economics at Northridge, studies the Valley's trends in the economy, employment, real estate, demographics and similar characteristics and annually issues its "Report of Findings on the San Fernando Valley Economy." The Valley, with 1.7 million people, if incorporated as one city, would be the fifth largest in the United States.

This year has seen the Valley's most dramatic rise in those on unemployment since the 1994 Northridge earthquake. After falling to a 10-year low of just 13,526 active claims in November 2000, the Valley's numbers rose monthly until hitting a seven-year high of 22,773 in July 2001. The numbers declined in August (21,677) and September (20,518) before rising again in October.

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