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As State Job Markets Remain Steady, CA Trends in Spotlight

California’s job market grew steadily in April 2023, although its labor force (those willing and able to work) is still -190,000 below the state’s pre-pandemic level in early 2020. Meanwhile, Nevada lost jobs month-over-month, but total non-farm employment remained at a record high of 1.54 million individuals.

Meanwhile, the California Center for Jobs and the Economy has released two useful reports in visualizing what has transpired from 2019 – 2023 in the state’s labor market and economy:

The following are the latest year-over-year and month-over April 2023 trends published this week by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR):

California’s April 2023 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in April 2023 (from a “readjusted” 4.4 percent in the month prior). For context, the state’s unemployment rate hit 16.1 percent at one point during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

California employers added 67,000 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in April 2023:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) increased by 157,500 in April 2023 from one year before and by 32,700 workers from the month before — and now sits at more than 19.4 million. However, it also remains approximately -190,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of nearly 19.6 million.
  • The total number of Californians holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, independent contractor/freelancers) was nearly 18.54 million, which is up 81,200 from the combined total employment level this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 18.04 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 426,000 (2.4 percent) from April 2022 to April 2023 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 2.6 percent.
  • Ten of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs, with the private education and health services sub-sector (21,700) leading the way (experiencing notable gains in the individual and family services industry/occupational group).
  • Leisure and hospitality (13,100) enjoyed the second-strongest month-over gains, driven by performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, as well as the food services and drinking-places industry groups.
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities posted a notable month-over gain (10,300) because of strong performances in motor vehicle and parts dealers, gas stations and fuel dealers, truck transportation, and support activities for transportation.
  • Mining and logging (-100) was the only industry sector to suffer a month-over employment loss, although the industry’s job totals retained a net gain (300) when compared with job numbers from April 2022.

Nevada’s April 2023 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state was down -2,900 jobs in April 2023 (month-over change) but up 61,600 jobs from a year ago (4 percent annual increase).

Total non-farm employment (payroll and independent-contract jobs combined) remained at a record high of more than 1.54 million individuals. When it comes to payroll employment specifically, June 2022 was the first month Nevada’s job market finally closed the gap inflicted since the COVID-19 recession in 2020.

Nevada’s April 2023 unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent (from a “readjusted” and unchanged 5.5 percent the month before), which is up from 3.7 percent in February of 2020 (pre-pandemic economy). For context, the state’s unemployment rate hit 28.2 percent at one point during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

At the local/regional level, Nevada employers added the following jobs in April 2023:

  • Las Vegas-area employment decreased just under -0.1 percent (-500 jobs) in April 2023 from the month before but increased by 52,700 jobs (4.9 percent) since April 2022.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment experienced 0 percent change (0 jobs) in April 2023 from the month before, but it increased 10,100 jobs (3.9 percent) since April 2022.
  • Carson City-area employment decreased -0.6 percent (200 jobs) in April 2023 from the month before but increased by 1,200 jobs (3.9 percent) since April 2022.
  • Nevada still has a high unemployment rate compared to other states.
  • The employment change into April 2023 was somewhat weaker than expected for this time of the year, particularly among sub-industry areas such as full-service restaurants, retail trade, and other personal services.

Ongoing Labor Market Perspective
These California and Nevada job market recoveries don’t account for lost ground and opportunity costs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically in California, the state’s labor force — the pool of individuals willing and able to work — shrunk drastically due to public health restrictions and concerns, policy and employer decisions, the volatile business environment, federal and state financial relief, and worker fluidity in a tight labor market.

Essentially, both California and Nevada job markets may have been even more robust by April 2023 if COVID-19 never impacted the economy and policy decisions, assuming no other negative financial or economic events transpired.

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