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Two new national surveys = Very bad news for California's unemployed workers

Posted by Jack Stewart, on May 3, 2012

Two national surveys released this week provided very bad news for California’s 2 million unemployed workers.

The first survey, Best/Worst States for Business, was released by CEO Magazine. The survey of 650 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) found California the worst state in which to do business, a ranking California has held for the past eight years. When America’s CEOs deem California the worst state to do business, there is little chance their companies will be making job creation investments in California.

The following is a representative sample of comments from participating CEOs in the often cited survey:

"California is the worst! They are doing everything possible to drive a business out of their state. If it were not for the climate, they would have lost half their population.

"California regulations, taxes and costs will leave only tech, life sciences and entertainment as viable. If you aren’t an elitist, no room here for the middle or working classes.

"California treats business owners like criminals. California has different overtime policies for its own employees vs. private sector.

"California’s labor regulation is a job killer. We will be moving our business out of the state, which will lose hundreds of jobs simply due to the poor regulatory environment.

"California should secede from the union—it is like doing business in a foreign country, it has its own exchange rate, and its regulation is crazy.

Full List of CEO comments


The second survey, Best Cities for Jobs 2012, was published by Forbes Magazine.  To determine the best cities for jobs, Forbes ranked all 398 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) covering November 2000 through January 2012. Rankings are based on recent growth trends, mid-term growth, long-term growth and the region’s momentum.

The highest ranked California SMA is Hanford-Corcoran as the 36th best city for finding a job.  Three other California SMAs made the top 100; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Bakersfield-Delano and San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City.  On the other hand, Texas had 20 SMAs in the top 100 and 6 in the top 10.

According to the report authors:  “So amidst all the good news, which big cities are still doing badly, or even relatively worse? Sadly, many of the places still declining are located in our home state of California, including Los Angeles (59th place among the biggest metro areas), Sacramento (60th), and just across the Bay from Silicon Valley, Oakland (63rd). Only the old, and to date still not recovering, industrial towns of Providence, R.I. (64th), and Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. (dead last at No. 65), did worse."


Complete ranking of 398 cities


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California is still #1 ...

Posted by Jack Stewart, on May 11, 2010

… the worst place in America to do business, a ranking it’s held since CEO magazine began surveying CEOs in 2005.  Not only does California’s business climate rank worse than every other state, but California ranks far below the national average in every category tested, from taxes to regulations, to workplace quality to living environment.  In only one sub-category, Arts & Culture (ranked lowest in importance to CEOs), California surpasses the national average.

This is not new information, every few weeks we see a new poll or survey ranking California’s business climate at or near the bottom.  Texas, on the other hand, has consistently been ranked as the best place to do business by CEO magazine.  One CEO’s comment was particularly revealing, “Texas is pro-business with reasonable regulations while California is anti-business with anti-business regulations.”  That’s quite a reputation for a state that desperately needs a surging economy to make up a $20 billion general fund budget deficit, close a $500 billion public pension fund deficit, reduce a 12.6% unemployment rate and deal with a persistent $6 billion annual fund imbalance.

Well, if the state is doing badly, surely there must be positive signs of economic recovery in some of California’s world class cities and counties. Not so fast.  While much of the nation is beginning to show signs of recovery, California is still trying to find the bottom.  Two recent reports shed light on the economic growth potential for California’s regional economies.

In March, the AP Stress Index ranked all 3,086 counties in the U.S. on the impact of the current recession and potential recovery.  Not a single California county made the top 20 list of least stressed counties, but 11 California counties we’re included in the 20 most stressed ranking.

Even more disturbing is a new ranking of the 2010 Best U.S. Cities for job growth by  The study ranks the nation’s 397 SMSAs (Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas) on current, mid-term and long-term employment growth rates.  The only two California SMSAs to make the top 100 are Hanford-Corcoran and Medera-Chowchilla.  The second rank of 100 SMSAs include El Centro and Bakersfield-Delano.  The first large California city on the SMSA list is San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City ranked at 271.  San Francisco (271) is followed by San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara-Carlsbad (297), San Diego-San Marcos (299), Sacramento-Roseville (322), Los Angeles-Long Beach (352), Santa Ana-Anaheim (353) and Riverside-San Bernardino (359).

Joel Kotkin opines on the findings in an article in Forbes Magazine titled The Worst Cities for Jobs.  Kotkin writes, "And then there is California, which by all rights should be leading, not lagging, the current recovery.  Statewide unemployment, already at 12.6%, has been rising while most states have experienced a slight drop.  Silicon Valley companies, Hollywood and the basic agricultural base of the state remain world-beaters. But the problem lies largely in an extremely complex regulatory regime that leads companies to shift much of their new production and staffing to other states, as well as foreign countries.  The constant prospect of a state bankruptcy, in large part due to soaring public employee pension obligations, does not do much to inspire confidence among either local entrepreneurs or investors."

Kotkin concludes, “Hopefully, this will be the year when Californians decide that it needs an economy that provides opportunities to people other than software billionaires, movie moguls and their servants.  It will have to include much more than the endlessly hyped, highly subsidized 'green jobs.’  More than anything, it will take rolling back some of the draconian regulations – particularly around climate change legislation – that force companies, and jobs, to go to places that, while not as intrinsically attractive, are far friendlier to job creating businesses.”

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