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CA Unemployment Hits 4.9%; More NV Residents Look for Work

California’s job market grew slowly in November 2023, and its labor force (those willing and able to work) is still -230,000 below the state’s pre-pandemic level in early 2020. Meanwhile, Nevada’s job base kept growing as total non-farm employment remained near an all-time high — although a record number of residents throughout the state are looking for work today.

Currently, California (4.9 percent) and Nevada (5.4 percent) unemployment rates are relatively much higher than the U.S. average of 3.7 percent. The following are the latest year-over-year and month-over November 2023 trends published recently by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR):

California’s November 2023 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in November 2023 (from a “readjusted” 4.8 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 9,300 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in November 2023:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) increased by 78,400 in November 2023 from one year before, but it declined -13,100 workers from the month before — and now sits at 19.36 million. It also remains approximately -230,000 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 18.41 million, which is down by -77,700 from the combined total employment level this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total 18.16 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 268,600 (1.5 percent) from November 2022 to November 2023 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 1.8 percent.
  • Six of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in November, with private education and health services (10,500) showing the largest gains thanks to above-average increases in the nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance industry groups.
  • Leisure and hospitality (7,900) also experienced good gains and now boasts 25,800 (or 1.3 percent) more jobs than it did pre-pandemic.
  • Gains in information technology (1,900) were due, in part, to the end of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike as striking workers returned to the workplace.
  • Reductions in professional and business services (-11,100) were largely due to above-average losses in employment services, services to dwellings and buildings, and waste management and remediation services industry groups.

Nevada’s November 2023 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state was up 4,000 jobs in November 2023 (month-over change) and 42,000 jobs from a year ago (3 percent annual increase) — which consists of non-farm payroll company/organization growth.

Total non-farm Nevada employment — which includes all non-farm payroll, agriculture related, and independent contractor/freelance jobs — stood at nearly 1.52 million individuals in November 2023. (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 November 2023 unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent (from a “readjusted” and unchanged 5.4 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’s non-farm company payroll employers added, subtracted, or experienced the following trends in November 2023:

  • Las Vegas-area employment increased 0.4 percent (4,800 jobs) in November 2023 from the month before and by 42,600 jobs (3.8 percent) since November 2022.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment decreased -0.1 percent (-300 jobs) in November 2023 from the month before, but it increased by 7,600 jobs (2.9 percent) since November 2022.
  • Carson City-area employment increased 0.6 percent (200 jobs) in November 2023 from the month before and by 1,000 jobs (3.2 percent) since November 2022.
  • The Nevada labor force (those willing and able to work) grew by about 8,800, with November marking the 11th consecutive month that the state has experienced an increase in this group of individuals. The state has a record-high number of individuals in the labor force (more than 1.6 million) looking for work.

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

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