In August, California records 4.6% unemployment rate for third straight month

California’s August unemployment rate of 4.6% matched that in June and May, as employers added 23,100 new nonfarm payroll jobs versus 8,900 in July and 9,990 in June, according to data from the California Employment Development Department.

“Total nonfarm employment for July 2023 was revised down by 19,000 jobs due to revised reductions in leisure and hospitality, information, and government industry sectors,” the EDD reported.

California has added 3,202,200 jobs, for an average monthly gain of 80,055 jobs since April 2020, according to the EDD. Job growth for June, July and August averages 13,967 jobs.

California’s share of national employment expansion slowed month-over-month. August nonfarm job growth in California registered 12.4% of the U.S. employment gains compared with the state’s 11.6% share of the nation’s total nonfarm payroll employment. In July, the Golden State’s nonfarm new hires accounted for 14.9% of the U.S. total employment growth.

“There was some regional contrast this month with the weakest numbers in the big urban centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco,” according to Jeffrey Michael, Director of Public Policy Programs and professor of public policy at Pacific McGeorge School of Law in California’s capital city, “but stronger growth driven by health care, education, and government in the East Bay, Sacramento and Orange County.

“The August data shows modest payroll growth for California in August. However, when combined with downward revisions for July and slight declines in labor force and employment in the household survey, the state’s job market appears to be cooling off over the summer.”

In August, seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained nonfarm payroll jobs, matching July’s figures, according to the EDD. Leading the way was the sector of private education and health services with 14,000 new hires, as employers hired for individual and family services, private colleges, universities and professional schools. Government employment, which topped the list of sectors with 15,500 new hires in July, fell to 5,200 jobs in August. In August, California’s construction sector added 4,700 new hires compared with 500 in July.

The fight against inflation, a general rise in prices that the Federal Reserve Bank is waging with interest-rate hikes, is a factor in the growth of construction employment, dependent in part on borrowing costs. A rise in the cost of lending slows hiring.

In drought-stricken California, agricultural employers shed 1,300 jobs in August, according to the EDD. The agricultural industry registered growth of 8,600 farm jobs between August 2023 and August 2022.


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