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Jerry Brown's California: Five big changes from 1975 to 2011

Once California’s youngest governor, Jerry Brown reprises his role as the state's chief executive starting Monday, now as the oldest person elected to that office. Then, as now, Brown replaced a Hollywood actor-gone-governor – Ronald Reagan in 1975 and Arnold Schwarzenegger now – and the top issue was high unemployment amid a sagging economy. Here's a look at California and Brown then and now.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown visited with outgoing Gov. Ronald Reagan in the governor's office amid moving-day clutter on Jan. 3, 1975.
Dick Schmidt/Sacramento Bee/Newscom/File
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High unemployment

Succeeding Gov. Ronald Reagan, Brown took office in 1975 amid high unemployment, a recession, and runaway inflation. In his 1975 inaugural address, he said, “We are going to cooperate with local government and industry to create as many new jobs as humanly possible.”

In some ways, Brown may have it even worse now. California’s unemployment rate in 1975 stood at a relatively high 9.4 percent, but now it's at a whopping 12.4 percent. That's the second highest jobless rate in the nation: Only Michigan's is higher. During Brown’s first year in office, the unemployment rate worsened, rising to 9.9 percent. Today, Brown emphasizes creating jobs in clean energy, construction, and manufacturing, and hopes to improve job-training programs.


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