California Employment Report

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Published: Sept. 18, 2017

 Highlights for policy makers:

Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.1%; Total Employment Drops 14,100

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

Seasonally Adjusted California US
  Aug 2017 Change from Jul 2017 Aug 2017 Change from Jul 2017
Unemployment Rate 5.1% 0.3 4.4% 0.1
Labor Force 19,168,500 0.2% 160,571,000 0.0%
Participation Rate 61.9% 0.0 62.9% 0.0
Employment 18,196,800 -0.1% 153,439,000 0.0%
Unemployment 971,800 4.9% 7,132,000 2.2%
Source: California Employment Development Department; US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

Not Seasonally Adjusted California US
  Aug 2017 Change from Aug 2016 Aug 2017 Change from Aug 2016
Unemployment Rate 5.9% 0.3 4.5% -0.5
Labor Force 19,423,600 1.3% 160,863,000 0.7%
Participation Rate 62.3% -0.2 63.0% 0.1
Employment 18,295,800 1.0% 153,576,000 1.2%
Unemployment 1,127,800 5.5% 7,287,000 -8.9%
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 dropped 14,100 from July, while the number of unemployed rose by 45,700. The labor force rose by 31,600.

California’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 4.8% to 5.1%. California had the 8th highest unemployment rate among the states. The unadjusted rate from 5.6% in August 2016 to 5.9%.

Total US employment saw a seasonally adjusted decrease of 74,000 from July, while the number of unemployed rose 151,000. The national unemployment rate was up 0.1 point to 4.4%. The national labor force numbers grew by 77,000.

Labor Force Participation Rate at Lowest Level Since 1976

California’s participation rate (seasonally adjusted) in August was unchanged at 61.9%, while the US rate also remained level at 62.9%.     

The seasonally adjusted California participation rate in August remained at its lowest level since 1976. 

State Employment Growth Rankings—California Drops to 7th Place

Change in Employment, August 2016 – August 2017
Rank Number of Employed Percentage Change Population Adjusted
(employment growth per 1,000 civilian
noninstitutional population)
1 FL 322,800 CO 4.2% CO 27.3
2 TX 153,700 OR 4.2% OR 24.9
3 GA 141,600 UT 3.5% UT 23.3
4 NY 126,800 FL 3.4% FL 19.4
5 CO 118,200 AR 3.2% AR 18.0
6 WA 96,400 GA 3.0% GA 17.9
7 CA 94,900 WA 2.8% WA 16.8
8 VA 89,300 MD 2.6% MD 16.5
9 OR 81,800 KY 2.5% DC 14.4
10 MD 78,100 DC 2.2% WI 13.8
11 NC 69,700 VA 2.2% VA 13.6
12 WI 63,300 WI 2.1% KY 13.5
13 MA 62,600 AZ 2.0% MN 13.4
14 AZ 62,100 MN 2.0% AZ 11.5
15 MN 57,700 RI 1.9% CT 11.4
16 UT 51,500 NV 1.8% MA 11.3
17 TN 50,600 CT 1.8% RI 11.3
18 MI 47,400 MA 1.8% ME 10.9
19 KY 46,600 ME 1.8% NV 10.7
20 AR 41,700 TN 1.7% TN 9.7
21 IN 40,400 SC 1.6% SC 9.0
22 SC 34,900 NC 1.5% NC 8.8
23 CT 32,800 NY 1.4% ID 8.4
24 NJ 25,500 ID 1.4% NY 8.0
25 NV 24,700 IN 1.3% ND 7.9
26 OH 22,700 TX 1.2% IN 7.8
27 PA 18,100 ND 1.1% TX 7.4
28 AL 12,900 MI 1.0% MI 6.0
29 ME 11,900 AK 0.9% AK 5.5
30 ID 10,700 HI 0.9% HI 5.4
31 RI 9,700 NM 0.8% NM 4.2
32 KS 8,900 MS 0.7% KS 4.0
33 MS 8,600 DE 0.7% DE 4.0
34 DC 8,100 AL 0.6% MS 3.8
35 NM 6,800 KS 0.6% SD 3.7
36 HI 5,900 NJ 0.6% NJ 3.6
37 OK 5,900 SD 0.5% AL 3.4
38 ND 4,600 CA 0.5% NH 3.2
39 NH 3,500 NH 0.5% CA 3.1
40 WV 3,300 WV 0.4% OH 2.5
US 1,784,000 US 1.2% US 7.0
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted

Between August 2016 and August 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows the total number of employed in California increased by 94,900 (seasonally adjusted), or 5.3% of the total net employment gains in this period for the US. California dropped to 7th place behind Florida (which has a civilian working age population only 55% as large as California’s) at 322,800, Texas (68% as large) at 153,700, Georgia, New York, Colorado, and Washington. Measured by percentage change in employment over the year, California dipped to 38th highest. Adjusted for working age population, California fell to 39th.

Nonfarm Jobs Down 8,200

EDD reported that between July and August 2017, seasonally adjusted nonfarm wage and salary jobs fell 8,200. July's gains were revised to 84,500 from the previously reported 82,400. Looking at the not seasonally adjusted nonfarm numbers, hiring saw increases in all but 3 industries over the year. The change in total payroll jobs from August 2016 saw the largest increases in Construction (47,600), Government (56,800), and Social Assistance (37,900). Declines were in Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (-4,800), Manufacturing (-4,600), and Mining & Logging (-1,000).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Payroll Jobs Aug 2017 Jul 2017 Change Aug 2017 - Jul 2017 Change Aug 2017 - Aug 2016
Total Farm 482,100 485,100 -3,000 2,900
Mining and Logging 23,600 23,700 -100 -1,000
Construction 845,500 838,600 6,900 47,600
Manufacturing 1,319,300 1,308,000 11,300 -4,600
Wholesale Trade 738,200 737,200 1,000 11,800
Retail Trade 1,676,400 1,670,500 5,900 200
Utilities 58,400 58,300 100 -400
Transportation & Warehousing 536,500 535,100 1,400 1,400
Information 533,100 528,100 5,000 6,100
Finance & Insurance 550,600 549,800 800 2,700
Real Estate & Rental & Leasing 285,400 285,600 -200 4,100
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services 1,226,200 1,232,300 -6,100 -4,800
Management of Companies & Enterprises 230,200 231,300 -1,100 3,400
Administrative & Support & Waste Services 1,103,800 1,099,600 4,200 10,800
Educational Services 339,700 346,400 -6,700 13,200
Health Care 1,486,500 1,485,900 600 20,600
Social Assistance 758,800 752,200 6,600 37,900
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation 319,800 324,000 -4,200 6,500
Accommodation 230,500 230,500 0 1,900
Food Services 1,424,800 1,431,400 -6,600 34,900
Other Services 584,000 580,700 3,300 24,200
Government 2,449,900 2,422,400 27,500 42,300
Total Nonfarm 16,721,200 16,671,600 49,600 258,800
Total Wage and Salary 17,203,300 17,156,700 46,600 261,700
Source: California Employment Development Department

By total number of new jobs, California continued to show the second highest increase in seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs among the states from August 2016 to August 2017, at 265,100 or 12.6% of the US net increase. Texas led jobs growth with 298,600 jobs, and Florida was third with 221,400. By percentage growth in jobs, California dropped to 21st highest at 1.6%, above the US average of 1.4%. By population adjusted jobs growth, California dropped to 26th highest, slightly above the US average.

Change in Nonfarm Jobs (seasonally adjusted), August 2016 – August 2017
Rank Number of Jobs Employment Growth (%) Population Adjusted
(job growth per 1,000 civilian
noninstitutional population)
1 TX 298,600 NV 3.0% DC 23.4
2 CA 265,100 GA 2.7% UT 16.9
3 FL 221,400 FL 2.6% NV 16.8
4 NY 128,600 UT 2.6% GA 14.7
5 GA 116,500 TX 2.5% TX 14.3
6 NC 70,500 MD 2.3% MD 13.4
7 WA 67,300 OR 2.3% FL 13.3
8 MD 63,600 ID 2.2% NH 13.1
9 MI 60,300 NH 2.1% OR 12.6
10 PA 59,400 WA 2.1% ID 11.9
11 VA 58,700 AR 1.9% WA 11.7
12 MA 57,400 RI 1.9% MO 11.0
13 OH 57,100 MO 1.8% RI 10.8
14 MO 52,300 CO 1.8% CO 10.6
15 TN 52,200 TN 1.8% MA 10.4
16 CO 45,800 SC 1.7% MN 10.2
17 MN 44,000 DC 1.7% AR 10.1
18 OR 41,600 MT 1.6% TN 10.0
19 NV 38,800 NC 1.6% ND 9.8
20 NJ 38,100 MA 1.6% NE 9.3
21 UT 37,300 CA 1.6% MT 9.2
22 SC 35,600 KY 1.6% SC 9.1
23 AZ 34,700 MN 1.5% VA 9.0
24 IN 31,600 VA 1.5% NC 8.9
25 KY 30,500 MI 1.4% KY 8.8
26 AL 26,900 NY 1.4% CA 8.6
27 LA 24,200 AL 1.4% NY 8.1
28 IL 23,600 NE 1.3% MI 7.6
29 AR 23,400 ND 1.3% AL 7.0
30 OK 19,900 AZ 1.3% IA 7.0
31 WI 19,000 LA 1.2% LA 6.7
32 IA 17,200 OK 1.2% OK 6.7
33 ID 15,200 IA 1.1% AZ 6.4
US 2,097,000 US 1.4% US 8.3
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Six Industries Below 2007 Pre-Recession Job Levels

Source: California Employment Development Department, Wage & Salary Jobs (seasonally adjusted), wages are running 4 quarter average from QCEW wage data

Comparing the number of jobs by industry in August 2017 (not seasonally adjusted), 6 industries had employment below the 2007 pre-recession levels. The highest gain industries were led lower wage Food Services, Health Care (with a relatively higher mix of lower and higher wage occupations), lower wage Social Assistance, and higher wage Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. 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 for total wage and salary jobs, according to the industry wage classification used previously in other Center analyses of this issue.  As indicated, over half of net jobs growth since the recession has been in the low wage industries.  Middle Class-blue collar jobs show a decline.

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 4.0% in the Bay Area to more than twice as large at 8.6% in the Central Valley.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate (%) August 2017
California 5.9
Bay Area 4.0
Orange County 4.2
Sacramento Region 5.1
Central Coast 5.2
Central Sierra 5.3
Los Angeles 5.3
San Diego/Imperial 5.6
Inland Empire 6.2
Upstate California 6.3
Central Valley 8.6


By Legislative District:

Lowest 10 Unemployment Rates
CD18 (Eshoo-D) 3.0 SD13 (Hill-D) 3.0 AD16 (Baker-R) 2.8
CD12 (Pelosi-D) 3.3 SD11 (Wiener-D) 3.5 AD22 (Mullin-D) 2.9
CD52 (Peters-D) 3.4 SD39 (Atkins-D) 3.7 AD24 (Berman-D) 3.1
CD45 (Walters-R) 3.5 SD37 (Moorlach-R) 3.8 AD28 (Low-D) 3.2
CD14 (Speier-D) 3.5 SD36 (Bates-R) 3.8 AD77 (Maienschein-R) 3.4
CD17 (Khanna-D) 3.6 SD26 (Allen-D) 4.0 AD17 (Chiu-D) 3.5
CD49 (Issa-R) 3.9 SD07 (Glazer-D) 4.0 AD78 (Gloria-D) 3.5
CD15 (Swalwell-D) 3.9 SD15 (Beall-D) 4.0 AD19 (Ting-D) 3.5
CD33 (Lieu-D) 3.9 SD10 (Wieckowski-D) 4.1 AD73 (Brough-R) 3.6
CD02 (Huffman-D) 4.0 SD02 (McGuire-D) 4.2 AD25 (Chu-D) 3.6
Highest 10 Unemployment Rates
CD36 (Ruiz-D) 7.0 SD30 (Mitchell-D) 6.3 AD80 (Gonzalez-D) 7.2
CD41 (Takano-D) 7.0 SD31 (Roth-D) 6.3 AD34 (Fong-R) 7.4
CD09 (McNerney-D) 7.0 SD21 (Wilk-R) 6.4 AD23 (Patterson-R) 7.5
CD10 (Denham-R) 7.2 SD35 (Bradford-D) 6.5 AD64 (Gipson-D) 7.7
CD44 (Barragán-D) 7.5 SD08 (Berryhill-R) 7.1 AD13 (Eggman-D) 8.0
CD23 (McCarthy-R) 8.1 SD05 (Galgiani-D) 7.2 AD21 (Gray-D) 9.2
CD22 (Nunes-R) 8.3 SD12 (Cannella-R) 7.7 AD31 (Arambula-D) 9.9
CD16 (Costa-D) 9.5 SD16 (Fuller-R) 8.0 AD26 (Mathis-R) 10.3
CD21 (Valadao-R) 10.6 SD40 (Hueso-D) 9.9 AD32 (Salas-D) 11.1
CD51 (Vargas-D) 11.7 SD14 (Vidak-R) 11.6 AD56 (Garcia-D) 13.8

Bay Area Provided 44% of Net Employment Growth Since Recession

Containing just under 20% of the state’s population, the Bay Area was responsible for 43.6% of the net growth in employment since the pre-recession peaks in 2007. Los Angeles Region provided the next largest share at 21.1%, but spread over 29.2% of the population. Inland Empire is the only other region continuing to show employment gains above their population share.

Eight California MSAs in the 10 Worst Unemployment Rates Nationally

According to BLS data, of the 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with the worst unemployment rates nationally, 8 are in California. Of the 20 worst, 10 are in California.

US Rank MSA July 2017 Unemployment Rate
369 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 6.8
369 Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area 6.8
371 Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area 6.9
372 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.0
373 Danville, IL Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.1
374 Las Cruces, NM Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.7
374 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.7
374 Stockton-Lodi, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.7
377 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area 7.9
378 Modesto, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.0
379 Yuba City, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.1
380 Farmington, NM Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.2
381 Madera, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.4
382 Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.7
383 Hanford-Corcoran, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 8.9
384 Bakersfield, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 9.7
384 Merced, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 9.7
386 Visalia-Porterville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 10.8
387 Yuma, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area 23.8
388 El Centro, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 24.2

Note: All data sources, methodologies, and historical data series available at CenterforJobs.org.


Methodology and Sources