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CA & NV Job Markets Continue Their Slow Growth in March

California’s job market grew slowly in March 2023 as its labor force (those willing and able to work) is still -219,000 below the state’s pre-pandemic level in early 2020. Meanwhile, Nevada’s total non-farm employment remained at a record high of more than 1.54 million individuals.

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

California’s March 2023 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.4 percent in March 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 8,700 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in March 2023:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) increased by 151,200 in March 2023 from one year before and by 32,700 workers from the month before — and now sits at more than 19.37 million. It remains approximately -219,000 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 more than 18.5 million, which is up 128,600 from the combined total employment level this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 17.97 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 432,100 (2.5 percent) from March 2022 to March 2023 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 2.7 percent.
  • Six of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in March, with private education and health services (7,000) leading the way, as well as notable gains in dental offices, home health care services, and hospitals.
  • Government (6,900) enjoyed the second-strongest month-over gain as jobs were added in all three of its subsectors, with the strongest gains coming in local government education.
  • Leisure and hospitality (11,200) yet again enjoyed strong month-over gains, thanks largely to limited-service restaurants and other eating places, as well as gains in performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries (event and concert promoters and organizers and talent and sports agents).
  • Construction (-8,200) suffered the largest reduction in month-over employment, with much of its losses coming in specialty trade contractors and construction of buildings subsectors. Additional losses came in the highway, street, and bridge construction and residential building construction arenas (among others). Extreme weather and flooding likely played a role in the sector’s month-over decline as winter/spring storms hit California during the survey week.

Nevada’s March 2023 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state was up 2,600 jobs in March 2023 (month-over change) and 73,000 jobs from a year ago (5 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 March 2023 unemployment rate stood at 5.5 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 March 2023:

  • Las Vegas-area employment increased 0.4 percent (4,100 jobs) in March 2023 from the month before and by 58,100 jobs (5.5 percent) since March 2022.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment decreased -0.1 percent (300 jobs) in March 2023 from the month before, but it increased 10,800 jobs (4.2 percent) since March 2022.
  • Carson City-area employment increased 0.9 percent (300 jobs) in March 2023 from the month before and by 1,600 jobs (5.3 percent) since March 2022.
  • The health care and leisure industries both experienced the largest March 2023 month-over gains compared to all industries statewide, while construction saw the largest decline.

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 March 2023 if COVID-19 never impacted the economy and policy decisions, assuming no other negative financial or economic events transpired.

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