California Job Tracker — January

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

California’s Job Market Brightens Further

California’s jobless rate fell to a record low in November, falling to 4.6%. This is the lowest since records began in 1976 and represents a decline from the 5.3% level of a year ago. (See Figure 1) Significantly, more people entered the workforce and even more found jobs.

The job market’s improvement is touching virtually all segments of the population. Nationally, in December the unemployment rate for African-Americans fell to 6.8%, the lowest level since records began in 1972. The 4.9% rate for Hispanics was also close to a record low.

The state’s nonfarm employers added a large number of jobs between October and November with payrolls surging by 47,400. California has now staged three months of back-to-back gains of 45,000 to 50,000. The year-over-year increase in jobs stands at a robust 288,300. Gains were widespread across industries in November, including even manufacturing. California, which had lagged early in the year, now appears to be on a strong growth trend.

Regional Gains Remain Widespread

For the fifth consecutive month, all 29 of California’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) achieved employment totals above their pre-recession peaks. (See Figure 2) Leading the way were the San Francisco MSA (up 24% from its prior peak) and the San Jose area (up 18% from its earlier peak). The only two areas that were up by 1% or less were Redding and Hanford-Corcoran, which have only recently moved into the full recovery zone.

Concerns have been expressed that high housing costs might derail the growth of the technology sector in Northern California. This was not the case based on the latest numbers, as both areas posted large job gains in October and November.

Outlook

The economy rarely moves in a straight, consistent path. However, following outsized gains in the last three months, some slowing may be expected in California in December’s report. The national figures showed a smaller rise.

California, however, remains on a strong track. Further job gains and strides to full employment should continue in 2018.

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.

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