In the old days, when work dried up in one geographic area, unemployed people migrated, often with tremendous difficulty, to another area. Think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, or the enormous Black movement from South to North during the Jim Crow years. People, being adaptable, followed the jobs.
What strikes me as interesting — a thought that was trigged by today’s news that California’s jobless rate hit 8.2% — is the fact that no one expects people to follow jobs anymore. While individuals may certainly make the decision to move, the prevailing paradigm is that people stay put while the government funnels money and (everyone hopes) creates jobs for them where they sit. That’s a huge change from historic norms.
By the way, California’s jobless rate would be better if it wasn’t the most inhospitable state in America for business. Businesses are taxed to death here, regulated to death here, and treated horribly and unfairly in any dispute with employees. There is little incentive to fight for a business here. While the workers stay put, hoping for handouts, the businesses, which are run by entrepeneurs, tend to be the ones to pack up and move to more favorable climes.