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Quick Facts: California Employment Report for April 2024

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The Center for Jobs and the Economy has released our initial analysis of the April 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:

Tepid Results in April Data

Both the nonfarm job and employment numbers showed positive gains in April, but at relatively modest levels. Nonfarm jobs rose by 5,200, and were not strong enough to even offset the 10,100 downward adjustment to the March gains. In the first 4 months of 2024, job gains have averaged 10,600, better than the 2,300 average loss in the same period during 2023 but below the overall 20,800 average during pre-pandemic 2019.

Employment gains were also modest at 5,800, but were only the second positive posting since last June. Although unemployment also showed little change, California again showed the highest unemployment rate among the states and DC for the third month in a row.

California Labor Force

CA Unemployment Rate
California’s reported unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in April was unchanged at 5.3%. The US rate rose 0.1 point to 3.9%.
California again had the highest unemployment rate among the states and DC.
CA Employment

Employment rose marginally by 5,800 (seasonally adjusted), with the total employment loss since April 2023 now at 115,100. US employment rose by 25,000.

California unemployment edged down 5,900, while US unemployment rose by 63,000. California unemployment has remained above the 1 million mark for the past 4 months in a row.

CA Labor Force Participation Rate
California labor force (seasonally adjusted) remained essentially unchanged with a loss of only 100, while the labor force participation rate was level at 62.0%. The US labor force rose 87,000, while the participation rate was unchanged at 62.7%.

Recovery Progress: CA Employment vs. Other States

Compared to the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020, California’s sustained weakness in employment recovery remained at the 3rd lowest among the states and DC.

Nonfarm Jobs

Nonfarm Jobs Change

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs edged up 5,200 in the preliminary results for April, not even offsetting the 10,100 downward revision of the March gain to 18,200.

For the US as a whole, nonfarm jobs rose 275,000 in April.

The seasonally adjusted numbers for California showed gains in 8 industries, losses in 9, and no change in Other Services.   Increases were led by Healthcare & Social Assistance (10,100), and Accommodation & Food Services (4,500), and Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities (3,700).  Losses were led by Construction (-6,000), Manufacturing (-5,300), and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (-3,600).

Recovery Progress: CA Nonfarm Jobs vs. Other States

California’s monthly job performance in April was the 16th highest among the states and DC. Florida was highest with a gain of 45.3k, followed by Texas at 42.6k and Missouri at 16.7k. Compared to the pre-pandemic peak, California has now gained a net 342,200 nonfarm jobs, still in 4th place among the states and DC but only 19,900 ahead of 5th place Georgia.

Adjusted for size, California remained at 31st highest, below the US average.

Nonfarm Jobs by Region

By region, job gains were concentrated in Los Angeles and Inland Empire.  The budget-critical Bay Area saw only a marginal gain of 300 nonfarm jobs, and remains 55,800 below the pre-pandemic peak.

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, Central Coast was the only region to post a monthly gain.

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) remain higher in all regions except the Central Coast compared to pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.

Counties with Double-Digit Unemployment

Counties with Unemployment Above 10%

The number of counties with an unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) at 10% or more dropped to 4. The unadjusted rates ranged from 3.3% in San Mateo to 15.7% in Imperial.

California MSAs in the 25 Highest Unemployment Rates

MSAs in the Bottom 25 by Unemployment Rate

Nationally, 14 MSAs were in the 25 with the highest unemployment rates in March, including the 4 worst MSAs.

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.