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Quick Facts: California Employment Report for March 2024

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

March Data Shows Mixed Results

The March data returned to reporting mixed results for the state’s economy.  Nonfarm jobs rose 28,000 in the preliminary results for March, while the loss in February was revised 3,300 lower to 6,600.  The preliminary average monthly gain for the first quarter of 2024 was 15,800, down sharply from the previous quarter’s average of 38,800 but better than the 5,200 average loss in the first quarter of 2023.

The labor force numbers continued to weaken, but at less significant numbers.  Employment reported yet another loss, the 9th in the last 10 months.  Employment dipped 8,400 for the month and a total of 128,600 in the current 10-month downward trend.  Unemployment also has grown in every month except one since September 2022, for a total increase in this period of 309,500 or 42.8% higher than the recent low in August 2022.  The unemployment rate remained at 5.3%, the highest among the states and DC and the highest in California since December 2021.

California Labor Force

Seasonally AdjustedCaliforniaUS
Mar 2024Change from Feb 2024Mar 2024Change from Feb 2024
Unemployment Rate5.3%0.03.8%-0.1
Labor Force19,345,9000.0%167,895,0000.3%
Participation Rate62.0%-0.162.7%0.2
Not Seasonally AdjustedCaliforniaUS
Mar 2024Change from Mar 2023Mar 2024Change from Mar 2023
Unemployment Rate5.3%0.63.9%0.3
Labor Force19,409,3000.1%167,960,0000.7%
Participation Rate62.2%-0.162.7%0.1
CA Unemployment Rate
California’s reported unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in February was unchanged at 5.3%. The US rate improved 0.1 point to 3.8%.
California again had the highest unemployment rate among the states and DC.
CA Employment
Employment dipped 8,200 (seasonally adjusted), with the total employment loss since May 2023 now at 128,600.
US employment rose by 498,000.
California unemployment edged up 4,000, while US unemployment dipped by 29,000.  Since August 2022, unemployment has risen 309,500 (42.8%) in California, while rising 446,000 (7.5%) in the US as a whole.
CA Labor Force Participation Rate
California labor force (seasonally adjusted) dipped 4,200, while the labor force participation rate was down 0.1 point to 62.0%. The US labor force rose 469,000, while the participation rate rose 0.2 point to 62.7%.

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.

Nonfarm Jobs

Nonfarm Jobs Change

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs rose 28,000 in the preliminary results for March, while the loss in February was revised 3,300 lower to 6,600.

For the US as a whole, nonfarm jobs rose 303,000 in March.

The seasonally adjusted numbers for California showed gains in 10 industries and losses in 8.   Increases were led by Healthcare & Social Assistance (11,200), Government (6,400), and Administrative & Support & Waste Services (5,300).  Losses were led by Manufacturing (-5,300), Wholesale Trade (-2,000), and Accommodation & Food Services (-1,800).

Recovery Progress: CA Nonfarm Jobs vs. Other States

California’s monthly job performance in March was the highest among the states and DC.  New York was 2nd highest with a gain of 23,900, followed by Texas with 19,100. 

Compared to the pre-pandemic peak, California has now gained a new 319,200 nonfarm jobs, still in 4th place among the states and DC.

Adjusted for size, California dropped to 31st highest, below the US average.

Nonfarm Jobs by Region

Both the budget critical Bay Area and Los Angeles Region posted nonfarm job gains (seasonally adjusted) over the month.  Los Angeles, Bay Area, and Central Coast regions, however, remained below their pre-pandemic peaks, with the other regions of the state showing post-recovery gains.

Nonfarm Jobs by Region
Source: EDD, seasonally adjusted
Change from February 2024Change from February 2020
Inland Empire3,600106,300
Central Valley6,20096,900
San Diego-1,70042,100
Orange County4,10016,700
Central Coast-400-12,900
Bay Area4,200-52,100
Los Angeles7,800-60,200

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 2024Change from Feb 2020
Los Angeles-33,200-586,800
Bay Area-103,100-324,200
Central Valley-5,000129,000
Orange County-18,000-102,300
San Diego/Imperial-24,400-60,200
Inland Empire-7,200-86,400
Central Coast-18,000-56,000
Upstate California630-38,830
Bay Area440-28,790
Central Sierra1,180-4,610

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

Unemployment Rate by Region
Source: EDD, not seasonally adjusted
Mar-24 Feb-20
California 5.3 4.3
Orange County 3.9 2.8
Bay Area 4.2 2.7
Sacramento 4.9 3.7
San Diego/Imperial 4.9 3.8
Inland Empire 5.1 3.9
Inland Empire 5.2 4.3
Central Sierra 5.3 4.5
Upstate California 7.2 6.3
Central Coast 7.8 7.0
Central Valley 9.2 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 more dipped to 8. The unadjusted rates ranged from 3.5% in San Mateo to 19.2% 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.

March 2024: Unemployment Rate by Legislative District
LegislatorHighest Unemployment RateLegislatorLowest Unemployment Rate
CD48 Issa (R)6.3CD40 Kim (R)3.5
CD46 Correa (D)6.6CD11 Pelosi (D)3.6
CD36 Lieu (D)7.0CD15 Mullin (D)3.6
CD14 Swalwell (D)7.2CD50 Peters (D)3.6
CD02 Huffman (D)7.7CD16 Eshoo (D)3.7
CD51 Jacobs (D)8.0CD47 Porter (D)3.8
CD45 Steel (R)8.5CD49 Levin (D)3.9
CD35 Torres (D)10.4CD38 Sánchez (D)4.0
CD03 Kiley (R)10.7CD17 Khanna (D)4.0
CD41 Calvert (R)12.1CD10 DeSaulnier (D)4.0
SD28 Smallwood-Cuevas (D)5.9SD13 Becker (D)3.3
SD33 Gonzalez (D)6.1SD39 Atkins (D)3.5
SD21 Wilk (R)6.2SD40 Jones (D)3.5
SD04 Alvarado-Gil (D)6.4SD37 Min (D)3.6
SD33 Gonzalez (D)6.6SD38 Blakespear (D)3.6
SD05 Eggman (D)6.9SD11 Wiener (D)3.8
SD12 Grove (R)7.6SD34 Umberg (D)4.2
SD18 Padilla (D)7.9SD15 Cortese (D)4.2
SD14 Caballero (D)11.1SD10 Wahab (D)4.2
SD16 Hurtado (D)12.0SD36 Nguyen (R)4.2
AD57 Jones-Sawyer (D)7.3AD23 Berman (D)3.2
AD03 Gallagher (R)7.5AD76 Maienschein (D)3.2
AD22 Alanis (R)7.8AD19 Ting (D)3.3
AD32 Fong (R)8.5AD26 Low (D)3.5
AD29 Rivas (D)9.1AD72 Dixon (R)3.5
AD36 Garcia (D)10.2AD21 Papan (D)3.5
AD35 Bains (D)11.0AD16 Bauer-Kahan (D)3.6
AD31 Arambula (D)11.0AD66 Muratsuchi (D)3.7
AD27 Soria (D)11.1AD77 Boerner (D)3.8
AD33 Mathis (R)12.3AD68 Valencia (D)3.8