California Job Tracker — February

By Dr. Lynn Reaser, Ph.D., CBE

A Winning Finish

California’s economy ended 2017 with a roar, as the state’s employers capped the year with a burst of hiring, adding nearly 53,000 jobs in December. This brought the gain for the total year to 342,000 jobs, similar to the strong advance reported in 2016. (See Figure 1.) The state outperformed the nation by a sizable margin, with a year-over-year rise of 2.1%. This compared to the U.S. rise of 1.5%.

Industry-Wide Performance

Nearly all of California’s industries ended with job levels above those of the prior year. Among major sectors, construction registered the largest percentage rise with an advance of 7.1%. Tourism, health care, information services, and private education also posted robust gains. Only two sectors experienced losses. Manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs, but the percentage decline was only 0.2%. Durable goods industries added jobs, but were offset by losses in such non-durable goods industries as food and apparel. The logging and mining industry, which is a small share of California’s total economy, shed 1,400 positions.

Regional Perspective

Job gains across California’s 29 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) also took place. On a year-over-year basis, only one MSA (Yuba City) posted a loss. Significantly, all 29 regions remained above their prior job peaks reached before the “Great Recession” of 2007–09. December marked the sixth consecutive month in which all of the state’s regions maintained that accomplishment.

Unemployment Rate

California’s unemployment rate in December fell to 4.3%, the lowest level since 1976 when records first began. (See Figure 2.) More Californians became sufficiently confident to enter the job market, but even more found positions. December’s decline brought the state’s jobless rate down to nearly the national level of 4.1%.

California continues to face formidable challenges, but the strength of its economy at least puts it in a position to better address its various issues.

Lynn Reaser is chair of the treasurer’s Council of Economic Advisors and chief economist at the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute for Point Loma Nazarene University. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California. Job data used in this article is compiled by the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute for Point Loma and is not meant to be used as an official State of California source or replace official information released by the State of California and/or State Department of Finance.