California jobless figures reflect uncertain economy

An illustration of employment in California. (Photo: David Carillet, via Shutterstock)

California employers added 47,400 nonfarm payroll jobs in September, the state reported,  sending a mixed signal about the state’s economy with less than half of August’s 104,300 new hires.

The Employment Development Department said September’s unemployment rate of 7.5% matched August’s 7.5%.

A federal survey of 80,000 California businesses is the source of the nonfarm payroll job data. California’s rate of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, comes from a separate federal survey of 5,100 households in the state.

“Although September’s job gain was only about half that seen in August, it marked the seventh consecutive monthly rise.” — Lynn Reaser

California’s 47,400 new hires in September were 24.4% of the U.S.’s 194,000 overall jobs gain in the month. In August 2021, California’s new hires represented about 44% of the nation’s job gains of 235,000.

“Although September’s job gain was only about half that seen in August,” said Lynn Reaser, chief economist, Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, at Point Loma Nazarene University, “it marked the seventh consecutive monthly rise. The State’s 0.3% monthly gain surpassed the 0.1 rise posted nationally.”

In September as in August, nine of California’s 11 industry sectors grew employment.

Leisure and hospitality employers led the way with 23,300 new hires in September versus government employment topping the August list with 46,900 new hires, a result of public school pupils beginning the 2021-22 instructional year. In September, professional and business services took second place in job gains with 6,900 new hires compared with 14,000 in August, according to the EDD.

California tied with Nevada among the 50 states for the highest unemployment rate of 7.5% in September, seasonally adjusted.

California’s labor force of 19 million is the nation’s largest. The monthly federal survey of 5,100 households showed the following:

–Californians employed in September was 17,594,600, an increase of 43,300 persons from August’s total of 17,551,300, and up 1,159,100 from the employment total in September of last year.

–The number of unemployed Californians was 1,418,800 in September, a decrease of 12,700 over the month and down 531,300 in comparison to September of last year.

California tied with Nevada among the 50 states for the highest unemployment rate of 7.5% in September, seasonally adjusted, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The other states with unemployment rates over 7% in September were: New York’s 7.4%; 7.2% for Connecticut, New Mexico and New Jersey; and 7% in Hawaii and Illinois.

“More of California’s missing potential workers also showed up in September as the labor force expanded for the fourth month in a row,” said Professor Reaser.

“Rising vaccination rates, the reopening of schools and the need for more income should bring more people back to the work place in coming months, which will not come too soon for California’s employers,” she added.

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