California Employment Report

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Published: May 22, 2017

 Highlights for policy makers:

Unemployment Rate Eases to 4.8%; Total Employment Up 27,800

The Labor Force data for April 2017 (seasonally adjusted; California preliminary) is shown below, along with the change from the prior month:

Seasonally Adjusted California US
Apr 2017 Change from Mar 2017 Apr 2017 Change from Mar 2017
Unemployment Rate 4.8 -0.1 4.4 -0.1
Labor Force 19,177,900 0.0% 160,213,000 0.0%
Participation Rate 62.1 0.0 62.9 -0.1
Employment 18,254,700 0.2% 153,156,000 0.1%
Unemployment 923,200 -2.1% 7,056,000 -2.0%
Source: California Employment Development Department; US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The related not seasonally adjusted numbers (California preliminary), with the change from April 2016:

Not Seasonally Adjusted California US
Apr 2017 Change from Apr 2016 Apr 2017 Change from Apr 2016
Unemployment Rate 4.5 -0.9 4.1 -0.6
Labor Force 19,084,500 0.3% 159,817,000 0.8%
Participation Rate 61.8 -0.4 62.8 0.1
Employment 18,222,000 1.2% 153,262,000 1.4%
Unemployment 862,500 -15.4% 6,555,000 -11.6%
Source: California Employment Development Department; US Bureau of Labor Statistics

California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) latest release shows on a seasonally adjusted basis, total employment rose 27,800 from March, while the number of unemployed dropped by 20,200. The labor force grew by only 7,600.

California’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued easing to 4.8%. California tied with West Virginia for the 14th highest unemployment rate among the states. The unadjusted rate dropped from 5.4% in April 2016 to 4.5%.

Total US employment saw a seasonally adjusted increase of 156,000 from March, while the number of unemployed dropped by 146,000. The national unemployment rate continued easing 0.1 point to 4.4%. The national labor force numbers also remained essentially level with a gain of only 12,000.

Labor Force Participation Rate Level Unchanged at 62.1%

California’s participation rate (seasonally adjusted) remained unchanged in April at 62.1%, while the US rate notched down 0.1 point to 62.9%. The California participation rate still remains near the previous lows from 1976, and well below the average pre-recession level of 65.6% in 2007.

Compared to November 2016, growing business and consumer confidence has seen the national labor force grow by 757,000 and the participation rate by 0.3 percentage point as workers have been drawn back into the labor force. In California, the labor force has remained essentially unchanged (net decline of 13,700), while the rate has dropped 0.2 points.

State Employment Growth Rankings—California Remains in 2nd Place Behind Florida

Change in Employment, April 2016 – April 2017
Rank Number of Employed Percentage Change Population Adjusted
(employment growth per 1,000 civilian
noninstitutional population)
1 FL 390,000 KY 4.8% UT 30.2
2 CA 272,600 UT 4.6% KY 26.0
3 TX 266,500 FL 4.2% FL 23.6
4 NY 165,600 AZ 3.9% CO 22.3
5 GA 156,700 CO 3.4% AZ 22.0
6 AZ 117,700 OR 3.4% OR 20.4
7 MI 109,100 GA 3.4% GA 19.9
8 NC 108,600 MA 3.1% MA 19.3
9 MA 106,400 ME 3.1% ME 18.6
10 WA 98,700 MS 3.1% WA 17.3
11 CO 95,900 WA 2.9% HI 16.8
12 VA 90,000 HI 2.8% MS 16.2
13 KY 89,900 NV 2.7% NV 15.7
14 OH 70,600 SC 2.6% ND 15.1
15 TN 70,600 AL 2.5% SC 14.4
16 MD 68,000 MI 2.4% MD 14.4
17 OR 66,600 TN 2.4% MI 13.8
18 UT 66,000 NC 2.4% NC 13.8
19 PA 61,000 MD 2.2% VA 13.8
20 WI 60,500 VA 2.2% TN 13.6
21 NJ 58,400 ND 2.2% CT 13.5
22 SC 55,900 CT 2.2% AL 13.3
23 AL 50,800 TX 2.1% WI 13.3
24 IN 44,200 ID 2.0% DC 12.9
25 IL 39,400 WI 2.0% TX 12.8
26 CT 38,700 DC 2.0% ID 12.5
27 MS 36,900 NY 1.8% RI 10.6
28 NV 35,900 RI 1.7% NY 10.5
29 MN 35,300 AK 1.6% AK 9.9
30 ME 20,400 CA 1.5% CA 8.9
US 2,128,000 US 1.4% US 8.4
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted

Between April 2016 and April 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows the total number of employed in California increased by 272,600 (seasonally adjusted), or 12.8% of the total net employment gains in this period for the US. California remained in 2nd place behind Florida (which has a civilian working age population only 55% as large as California’s) at 390,000, with Texas in a close third at 266,500. Measured by percentage change in employment over the year, California dropped to 30th highest. Adjusted for population, California dropped to 30th as well.

Nonfarm Jobs Down 16,300

EDD reported that between March and April 2017, seasonally adjusted nonfarm wage and salary jobs dropped 16,300 in April. March's gains were revised up to 22,800 from the previously reported gain of 19,300.

Looking at the not seasonally adjusted numbers, hiring saw increases in all but four industries over the year. The change in total payroll jobs from April 2016 saw the largest increases in Government (51,400) as tax and fee revenues have continued to expand, Construction (31,800), and Food Services (34,400). Declines were in Manufacturing (-10,000), Information (-5,100), and Administrative, Support & Waste Services (-2,300).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Payroll Jobs Apr 2017 Mar 2017 Change Apr 2017 - Mar 2017 Change Apr 2017 - Apr 2016
Total Farm 433,200 371,800 61,400 -3,200
Mining & Logging 22,500 22,100 400 -1,800
Construction 800,700 787,400 13,300 37,800
Manufacturing 1,290,100 1,292,900 -2,800 -10,000
Wholesale Trade 731,400 733,300 -1,900 10,500
Retail Trade 1,662,900 1,659,900 3,000 5,100
Utilities 58,500 58,300 200 -400
Transportation & Warehousing 526,400 529,000 -2,600 9,100
Information 519,500 525,000 -5,500 -5,100
Finance & Insurance 545,800 546,400 -600 2,800
Real Estate & Rental & Leasing 279,900 279,800 100 3,500
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services 1,232,300 1,236,100 -3,800 12,700
Management of Companies & Enterprises 227,400 227,700 -300 2,900
Administrative & Support & Waste Services 1,068,800 1,076,200 -7,400 -2,300
Educational Services 379,600 380,900 -1,300 10,100
Health Care 1,478,800 1,484,800 -6,000 28,000
Social Assistance 753,600 745,500 8,100 27,400
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation 302,400 296,000 6,400 4,300
Accommodation 222,700 220,800 1,900 2,000
Food Services 1,408,700 1,395,500 13,200 34,400
Other Services 573,100 571,900 1,200 18,200
Government 2,595,500 2,594,700 800 51,400
Total Nonfarm 16,680,600 16,664,200 16,400 240,600
Total Wage & Salary 17,113,800 17,036,000 77,800 237,400
Source: California Employment Development Department

By total number of new jobs, California dropped to the second highest increase in seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs among the states from April 2016 to April 2017, at 236,700 or 10.6% of the US net increase. Texas (with a civilian working age population only 68% as large as California’s) leading with 258,900 jobs and Florida a close third with 215,400. By percentage growth in jobs, California dropped to 21st highest at 1.4%, below the US average of 1.6%. By population adjusted jobs growth, California dropped to 25th highest, also below the US average.

Change in Nonfarm Jobs (seasonally adjusted), April 2016 – April 2017
Rank Number of Jobs Employment Growth (%) Population Adjusted
(job growth per 1,000 civilian
noninstitutional population)
1 TX 258,900 NV 3.6% UT 20.9
2 CA 236,700 UT 3.3% NV 19.8
3 FL 215,400 ID 2.6% GA 14.3
4 GA 113,600 GA 2.6% ID 14.2
5 NY 97,800 FL 2.6% WA 14.1
6 WA 81,700 WA 2.5% FL 12.8
7 MI 73,600 OR 2.3% OR 12.6
8 MA 58,600 TX 2.2% TX 12.2
9 TN 57,000 AZ 2.0% SD 12.0
10 NC 53,300 TN 1.9% MN 11.4
11 AZ 53,200 SD 1.8% NH 11.0
12 NJ 51,600 NH 1.8% TN 10.8
13 MN 49,300 CO 1.8% MA 10.5
14 UT 46,700 MT 1.7% CO 10.4
15 NV 46,200 MI 1.7% AZ 9.8
16 CO 45,700 MN 1.7% MT 9.8
17 PA 45,300 MD 1.7% MD 9.5
18 MD 45,000 MA 1.7% MI 9.3
19 VA 44,400 KY 1.6% KY 9.0
20 OR 42,000 AR 1.5% HI 8.3
21 WI 37,600 CA 1.4% WI 8.2
22 MO 36,700 HI 1.4% NE 7.9
23 OH 35,900 SC 1.4% AR 7.7
24 KY 31,200 AL 1.3% MO 7.7
25 IN 31,100 MO 1.3% CA 7.7
US 2,237,000 US 1.6% US 8.8
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

5 Industries below 2007 Pre-Recession Job Levels

Change in Number of Jobs, April 2017 v April 2007

Source: California Employment Development Department, not seasonally adjusted; wages are running 4 quarter average from QCEW wage data

Comparing the number of jobs by industry in April 2017 (not seasonally adjusted), 5 industries had employment below the 2007 pre-recession levels. In the highest gain industries, lower wage Food Services overtook Health Care as the leading industry, while lower wage Social Assistance and higher wage Professional, Scientific & Technical Services remained in 3rd and 4th place, respectively. Of the lagging industries, three—Manufacturing, Mining & Logging, and Construction—are blue collar middle class wage industries, while the higher wage Finance & Insurance also continued to lose ground.

Job Gains by Wage Level

In the recent May Budget Revision, the Governor again pointed to the increasing share of lower wage jobs as one of the prime causes of slowing state revenues growth: "The level of wages has been revised downward, and cash receipts have been significantly below forecast." The following chart illustrates this trend, according to the industry wage classification used previously in other Center analyses of this issue. In the chart below, Private sector jobs are shown in the dark green bands, while Government is shown in the lighter. As indicated, over one-third of jobs growth over the past 12 months has been in the low-wage industries.

Change in Jobs by Wage Level, April 2017 - April 2016

Source: Analysis of California Employment Development Department data, not seasonally adjusted

2016:Q2 Jobs, Wage and Establishment Data Updated

Jobs, wage, and establishment data from Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW) has been updated and available through the Employment Data Tool. The most recent data covers 2016:Q2. The update also includes revisions to the earlier year data for the Legislative Districts.

Changes in jobs by wage level for the year 2015:Q2 to 2016:Q2 are summarized in the charts below for Congressional, Senate, and Assembly Districts. The wage categories are similar to those presented above for the state, but some differences exist due to the current availability of data at the legislative district level. The main difference is that Health Care and the lower wage Social Assistance jobs are reported together in the data. Compared to the state data above, the charts below therefore undercount the extent to which “lower wage” jobs affect the mix in each district

As with prior QCEW updates at the district level, the data continues to show sharp disparities among the districts:

  • Four Assembly Districts (AD 43, AD 17, AD 74, and AD 78) accounted for nearly a third (31.5%) of the net jobs gains during this 12-month period.
  • Four Senate Districts (SD 25, SD 11, SD 13, and SD 31) accounted for nearly the same share (30.2%).
  • Four Congressional Districts (CD 12, CD 30, CD 28, and CD 17) accounted for 29.1% of net jobs gains.

Moreover, job gains in these 12 districts were led by the higher wage industries.  The other 161 districts with considerably lower job growth generally saw their numbers dependent to a greater extent on lower wage job growth.

Combining these results with the continuing Two-Tier developments discussed in the next section again reinforces the conclusion that current state policies affecting the state’s business climate primarily generate growth in a few areas of the state rather than providing more widespread job and wage growth across California.

Assembly District Change in Jobs_2015Q2 to 2016Q2

Senate District Change in Jobs_2015Q2 to 2016Q2

Congressional District Change in Jobs

Two-Tier Economy Persists—Central Valley Unemployment More than Twice as High as Bay Area

Unemployment rates (all data is not seasonally adjusted) continue to vary widely across the state, ranging from 3.2% in the Bay Area to nearly three times as large at 8.8% in the Central Valley.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate (%) April 2017
California 4.5
Bay Area 3.2
Orange County 3.3
Los Angeles 4.1
Sacramento Region 4.4
San Diego/Imperial 4.4
Inland Empire 4.7
Central Sierra 4.9
Central Coast 6.0
Upstate California 6.4
Central Valley 8.8

By Legislative District:

Lowest 10 Unemployment Rates:
CD12 (Pelosi-D) 2.6 SD13 (Hill-D) 2.4 AD16 (Baker-R) 2.2
CD18 (Eshoo-D) 2.6 SD11 (Wiener-D) 2.8 AD22 (Mullin-D) 2.2
CD52 (Peters-D) 2.7 SD37 (Moorlach-R) 2.9 AD24 (Berman-D) 2.5
CD45 (Walters-R) 2.7 SD39 (Atkins-D) 2.9 AD28 (Low-D) 2.6
CD14 (Speier-D) 2.8 SD36 (Bates-R) 3.0 AD77 (Maienschein-R) 2.7
CD17 (Khanna-D) 2.9 SD26 (Allen-D) 3.0 AD17 (Chiu-D) 2.7
CD33 (Lieu-D) 3.0 SD07 (Glazer-D) 3.2 AD19 (Ting-D) 2.8
CD15 (Swalwell-D) 3.0 SD10 (Wieckowski-D) 3.3 AD73 (Brough-R) 2.8
CD49 (Issa-R) 3.1 SD15 (Beall-D) 3.3 AD78 (Gloria-D) 2.8
CD27 (Chu-D) 3.1 SD32 (Mendoza-D) 3.3 AD74 (Harper-R) 2.9
Highest 10 Unemployment Rates
CD44 (Barragán-D) 5.8 SD21 (Wilk-R) 4.9 AD12 (Flora-R) 6.5
CD03 (Garamendi-D) 6.0 SD17 (Monning-D) 5.0 AD03 (Gallagher-R) 7.1
CD09 (McNerney-D) 6.5 SD35 (Bradford-D) 5.0 AD34 (Fong-R) 7.5
CD20 (Panetta-D) 7.0 SD04 (Nielsen-R) 5.8 AD13 (Eggman-D) 7.6
CD10 (Denham-R) 7.3 SD05 (Galgiani-D) 7.0 AD23 (Patterson-R) 7.7
CD23 (McCarthy-R) 8.0 SD08 (Berryhill-R) 7.2 AD26 (Mathis-R) 9.7
CD22 (Nunes-R) 8.2 SD16 (Fuller-R) 7.7 AD21 (Gray-D) 10.0
CD51 (Vargas-D) 9.2 SD40 (Hueso-D) 7.7 AD31 (Arambula-D) 10.1
CD16 (Costa-D) 10.2 SD12 (Cannella-R) 8.7 AD56 (Garcia-D) 10.4
CD21 (Valadao-R) 10.9 SD14 (Vidak-R) 11.7 AD32 (Salas-D) 11.5

Bay Area Provided 42% of Net Employment Growth Since Recession

Containing just under 20% of the state’s population, the Bay Area was responsible for 42.1% of the net growth in employment since the pre-recession peak in 2007. Los Angeles Region provided the next largest share at 21.2%, but spread over 29.3% of the population. Inland Empire is the only other region where employment growth has exceeded population.

Share of Employment Growth 2007 Peak - April 2017

8 California MSAs in the 10 Worst Unemployment Rates Nationally

Of the 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with the worst unemployment rates nationally, 8 are in California. Of the 20 worst, 12 are in California.

Metropolitan Area March 2017 rate Rank
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.9 368
Rockford, IL Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.3 370
Stockton-Lodi, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.3 370
Yakima, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.3 370
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.3 370
Farmington, NM Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.4 374
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.5 375
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.5 375
Modesto, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.8 377
Madera, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 10.0 378
Salinas, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 10.1 379
Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 10.3 380
Yuba City, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 10.4 381
Hanford-Corcoran, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 11.2 382
Bakersfield, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 11.5 383
Ocean City, NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area 12.1 384
Merced, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 12.2 385
Visalia-Porterville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 12.3 386
Yuma, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area 12.8 384
El Centro, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 19.2 388

Methodology and Sources