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400K In Calif. Face 'Sudden Stop' In Jobless Benefits

LOS ANGELES ( — The unemployment rate in California inched down slightly in October as the state Employment Development Department issued a dire warning that federal help for the long-term unemployed may soon run out.

The unemployment rate dipped to 10.1 percent in October - down from 10.2 percent a month earlier - after 45,800 jobs added to payrolls, according to the EDD's Loree Levy.


"It certainly looks like the job creation engine is picking up some speed as we go toward the end of the year, so it's good news," Levy said.

Levy added the number of jobs created far outstripped the traditional rate of population growth - about 20,000 - during the same period.

Retail posted some of the biggest gains, with another 20,500 jobs added slightly ahead of the start of the busy Christmas shopping season.

"Normally we would expect a pretty strong gain in November," Levy said. "To give you an idea, last October for instance, we saw a 2,000-job gain in retail trade, so [it was] certainly much stronger this year."

But the otherwise positive data was overshadowed by a looming Congressional deadline at the end of the year, when the federal extension of unemployment benefits expires.

"That means no matter what kind of balance anyone has left on any kind of federal extension claim, no further payments can be made after the week ending December 29," she said.

Levy estimated the deadline could mean a "very sudden stop" to benefits for as many as 400,000 unemployed statewide.

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