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Quick Facts: California Employment Report for February 2024

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The Center for Jobs and the Economy has released our initial analysis of the February Employment Report from the California Employment Development Department. For additional information and data about the California economy visit www.centerforjobs.org/ca.

Highlights for policy makers:

February Data Shows Weak Results

The February labor force data in general produced weak results for the state.  Nonfarm jobs dipped by 3,400 over the month, while January’s strong preliminary numbers were revised down sharply from the initially reported 58,100 to 25,600, the lowest since last September and only 38% as high as the gain in January 2023.

Employment came in with yet another monthly loss, the 8th in the last 9 months.  Employment was off 20,100 for the month and a total of 120,200 in the current 9-month downward trend.  As unemployment also has grown in every month except one since September 2022, the unemployment rate rose to 5.3%, the highest among the states and DC and the highest in California since December 2021.

California Labor Force

Seasonally AdjustedCaliforniaUS
-Feb 2024Change from Jan 2024Feb 2024Change from Jan 2024
Unemployment Rate5.3%0.13.9%0.2
Labor Force19,348,9000.0%167,426,0000.1%
Participation Rate62.1%0.062.5%0.0
Not Seasonally AdjustedCaliforniaUS
-Feb 2024Change from Feb 2023Feb 2024Change from Feb 2023
Unemployment Rate5.6%0.84.2%0.3
Labor Force19,394,3000.2%167,285,0000.7%
Participation Rate62.2%-0.162.5%0.1
CA Unemployment Rate
California’s reported unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in January was up 0.1 point to 5.3% as employment showed little change and unemployment continued to increase. The US rate was unchanged at 3.7%.
CA Employment
Employment dipped by 8,000 (seasonally adjusted), adding to a total loss since June of 96,200.
US employment dipped by 31,000 in January.
California unemployment rose 23,300, while US unemployment dropped 144,000.
CA Labor Force Participation Rate
California labor force (seasonally adjusted) was essentially unchanged with a dip of only 8,600, while the labor force participation rate was level at 62.1%. The US labor force rose 150,000, while the participation rate was unchanged at 62.5%.

Recovery Progress: CA Employment vs. Other States

Compared to the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020, California’s sustained weak employment recovery remained at the 3rd lowest among the states and DC.  Rather than moving towards recovery, total employment fell further to 265,900 below the pre-pandemic peak.

Nonfarm Jobs

Nonfarm Jobs Change

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs dipped 3,400 (seasonally adjusted), while the previously reported January gains were slashed by 32,500 to 25,600.

For the US, nonfarm jobs were up 275,000 in February.

The seasonally adjusted numbers for California showed gains in 5 industries and losses in 13.   Increases were led by Healthcare & Social Assistance (14,300), Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (4,000), and Accommodation & Food Services (1,400).  Losses were led by Construction (-9,600), Wholesale Trade (-3,500), and Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities  (-2,100).

Recovery Progress: CA Nonfarm Jobs vs. Other States

California’s monthly job performance in February was the 49th highest among the states and DC.  Texas led with 49,800, followed by Illinois at 23,100 and Michigan at 15,200. 

Compared to the pre-pandemic peak, California has now gained 294,100 nonfarm jobs, still in 4th place among the states and DC.

Adjusted for size, California again ranked 29th highest, below the US average.

Nonfarm Jobs by Region

Both the budget critical Bay Area and Los Angeles Region posted nonfarm job losses (seasonally adjusted) over the month, leaving the post-pandemic recovery rankings unchanged.

Nonfarm Jobs by Region
Source: EDD, seasonally adjusted
Change from January 2024Change from February 2020
Inland Empire800103,100
Central Valley-1,30090,600
San Diego-1,70039,700
Orange County3,10012,700
Central Coast-400-12,900
Bay Area-4,200-57,000
Los Angeles-3,300-65,900

Because the data in the table is seasonally adjusted, the numbers should be considered as the total for the counties in each region rather than the regional number.  This job series also is not available for all areas in California.

Unemployment Rates by Region

Looking at employment, no region in the state has yet to pass the pre-pandemic peak.  Los Angeles and Bay Area remain the furthest behind.

Change from Feb 2023Change from Feb 2020
Central Sierra1,180-4,610
Upstate california63054,900
Central Coast-18,000-56,000
Inland Empire-7,200-60,200
San Diego/Imperial-24,400-86,400
Orange County-22,400-102,300
Central Valley-5,000-129,000
Bay Area-103,100-324,200
Los Angeles-33,200-586,800

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) compared to pre-pandemic February 2020 are shown below.

Unemployment Rate by Region
Source: EDD, not seasonally adjusted
Feb-24 Feb-20
California 5.6 4.3
Orange County 4.2 2.8
Bay Area 4.5 2.7
Los Angeles 5.1 4.3
Sacramento 5.2 3.7
San Diego/Imperial 5.3 3.8
Inland Empire 5.5 3.9
Central Sierra 5.7 4.5
Upstate California 7.7 6.3
Central Coast 8.4 7.0
Central Valley 9.6 8.4

Counties with Double-Digit Unemployment

Counties with Unemployment Above 10%

The number of counties with an unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) at 10% or edged up to 3. The unadjusted rates ranged from 3.7% in San Mateo to 20.4% in Colusa.

Unemployment Rate by Legislative District

The estimated unemployment rates are shown below for the highest and lowest districts.  The full data and methodology are available on the Center’s website.

LowestCD40 Kim (R)3.7SD13 Becker (D)3.5AD23 Berman (D)3.4
CD11 Pelosi (D)3.8SD37 Min (D)3.8AD76 Maienschein (D)3.4
CD15 Mullin (D)3.9SD39 Atkins (D)3.8AD19 Ting (D)3.5
CD50 Peters (D)3.9SD40 Jones (R)3.8AD66 Muratsuchi (D)3.6
CD16 Eshoo (D)3.9SD11 Wiener (D)3.9AD26 Low (D)3.7
CD38 Sánchez (D)4.0SD38 Blakespear (D)3.9AD72 Dixon (R)3.7
CD47 Porter (D)4.1SD30 Archuleta (D)4.2AD16 Bauer-Kahan (D)3.8
CD28 Chu (D)4.1SD27 Stern (D)4.4AD21 Papan (D)3.8
CD49 Levin (D)4.2SD25 Portantino (D)4.4AD77 Boerner Horvath (D)4.0
CD17 Khanna (D)4.2SD34 Umberg (D)4.4AD56 Calderon (D)4.0
HighestCD10 DeSaulnier (D)6.7SD28 Smallwood-Cuevas (D)5.7AD13 Villapudua (D)7.3
CD48 Issa (R)7.1SD33 Gonzalez (D)5.9AD03 Gallagher (R)7.9
CD46 Correa (D)7.5SD21 Wilk (R)6.2AD22 Alanis (R)8.1
CD14 Swalwell (D)7.8SD04 Alvarado-Gil (D)6.7AD32 Fong (R)8.6
CD02 Huffman (D)8.2SD17 Laird (D)7.2AD29 Rivas (D)9.9
CD51 Jacobs (D)8.2SD05 Eggman (D)7.4AD36 Garcia (D)10.9
CD45 Steel (R)9.1SD12 Grove (R)7.8AD35 Bains (D)11.1
CD35 Torres (D)10.8SD18 Padilla (D)8.5AD31 Arambula (D)11.4
CD31 Napolitano (D)11.1SD14 Caballero (D)11.5AD27 Soria (D)11.5
CD03 Kiley (R)12.3SD16 Hurtado (D)12.2AD33 Mathis (R)12.9