California’s growth of nonfarm payroll jobs continued on a steady pace as 2021 ended, according to recent figures from the state Employment Development Department that do not fully reflect the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Employers added 50,700 new hires in the survey week ending December 12 versus November’s revised upward 52,500 workers. With 12% of the U.S. population, “California’s December 2021 gain of 50,700 nonfarm jobs accounted for nearly 25.5 percent of the nation’s 199,000 overall jobs gain for the month,” according to the EDD.
“The number of family child care facilities in California decreased from about 26,000 in 2019 to about 12,000 as of July 2020.” — Bay Area Council Economic Institute
Lynn Reaser is the chief economist of the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, at Point Loma Nazarene University. “The 50,000 gain in the labor force was encouraging in December and certainly included more women,” she told Capitol Weekly via email.
The pandemic has had an outsize impact on the participation of female workers in the state’s labor force in part due to the crash of childcare options for working women. They tend to be the primary household caregivers.
“The number of family child care facilities in California decreased from about 26,000 in 2019 to about 12,000 as of July 2020,” according to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI).
There were also demographic disparities in California’s employed female labor force during the coronavirus closures that Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated in mid-March 2020, and spanned 15 months. “Black and Latinx women experienced more extreme levels of job loss in California amidst the pandemic than white women,” according to the BACEI.
All of California’s major industries registered job gains in December, except for mining and logging which remained the same.
Meanwhile, California’s unemployment rate of 6.5% in December fell a half-percentage point from the revised upward 7.0% in November. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9% in December compared with 4.2% in November.
All of California’s major industries registered job gains in December except for mining and logging which remained the same. No industries shed employment in December for the first time since March 2021, according to the EDD.
Leisure and hospitality employment led the way with 15,000 new hires in December versus 6,900 in November. Professional and business services employed 12,000 new workers in December after gaining 18,800 in November.
Education and health services added 7,600 new hires in December, the third highest total by industry compared with November’s 9,500 workers. Government employment added 4,100 new hires in December versus 5,300 workers in November.
“Overall, the December employment report is mixed, like November’s.” — Enrique Lopezlira.
There is a burnout factor of employees in hospitals and schools facing the hazards of the pandemic propelling decreased health and education employment, according to Enrique Lopezlira, who directs the low-wage work program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Further, the Omicron variant’s spread and impact on job creation might show up more broadly in January’s employment data, he added.
Agriculture is a big industry in California, indicating the state’s overall economic health. “The number of jobs in the agriculture industry decreased by 4,200 from November 2021 to 429,300 jobs in December,” EDD figures show. There was an increase of 11,100 farm jobs in December 2021 versus December 2020.
“Overall, the December employment report is mixed, like November’s,” said Lopezlira. Amid the ongoing spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, California workers are seeking newer and higher paying jobs, according to him. Workers follow jobs if that means moving to where employment rates are higher.
Los Angeles County, with the state’s largest labor force of 5 million, had a 6.2% unemployment rate in December compared with November’s 7.1%.
This labor force trend is a factor amid a pattern of uneven rates of employment across California’s 58 counties. The following figures are preliminary, and are seasonally unadjusted, according to the EDD.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where professional and business service jobs are prevalent, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties had unemployment rates of 2.7%, 3.0 and 2.8%, respectively, in December versus 2.9%, 3.3% and 3.1%, in November. Los Angeles County, with the state’s largest labor force of 5 million, had a 6.2% unemployment rate in December compared with November’s 7.1%.
By contrast, labor force participation in some of California’s rural areas where farm jobs dominate is less, according to Lopezlira. For instance, Imperial County near San Diego, reported a 14.7% unemployment rate in December compared with November’s 15.5%. Over 60 miles north of Sacramento, Colusa County had a jobless rate of 11.9% in December versus 10.3% in November.
Editor’s Note: Seth Sandronsky reports regularly for Capitol Weekly. Contact him at email@example.com.