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CA’s Labor Force Dips; NV’s Non-Farm Jobs Hits New Record

CA’s Labor Force Dips; NV’s Non-Farm Jobs Hit New Record

California’s job market grew steadily in July 2023, although its labor force (those willing and able to work) is still -170,000 below the state’s pre-pandemic level in early 2020. Meanwhile, Nevada’s job base kept growing moderately as total non-farm employment kept pushing new record highs — now standing at more than 1.58 million workers.

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

California’s July 2023 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.6 percent in July 2023 (from a “readjusted” 4.6 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 27,900 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in July 2023:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) increased by 183,700 in July 2023 from one year before, but it declined -21,700 workers from the month before — and now sits at 19.42 million. It also remains approximately -170,000 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 31,300 from the combined total employment level this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total more than 18.1 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 363,600 (2 percent) from July 2022 to July 2023 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 2.2 percent.
  • Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in July, with government (15,000) showing the largest increase thanks to above-average gains in federal government/local government (excluding education).
  • Private education and health services (10,800) also recorded good gains thanks to strength in heath care and social assistance.
  • Gains in leisure and hospitality (10,300) mostly came from restaurants and “other” eating places. In reaching more than 2.06 million jobs as of July, this industry sector (the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic) has fully recovered from its April 2020 low of 1.062 million jobs.
  • Professional and business services (-11,400) posted the largest month-over loss due to weakness in the employment services industry group, as well as above-average losses in computer system design and related services.

Nevada’s July 2023 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state was up 3,400 jobs in July 2023 (month-over change) and 24,000 jobs from a year ago (1.5 percent annual increase) — which altogether includes total Nevadans holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, and independent contractor/freelancers).

Total non-farm employment (payroll and independent-contract jobs combined) hit a record high of more than 1.58 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 July 2023 unemployment rate stood at 5.3 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 July 2023:

  • Las Vegas-area employment increased 0.2 percent (1,700 jobs) in July 2023 from the month before and by 41,200 jobs (3.8 percent) since July 2022.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment decreased -0.1 percent (-400 jobs) in July 2023 from the month before, but it increased by 8,600 jobs (3.3 percent) since July 2022.
  • Carson City-area employment experienced no change in July 2023 from the month before, but it increased by 1,500 jobs (4.9 percent) since July 2022.
  • July marked the eighth consecutive month the state has experienced an increase in the labor force (individuals who are willing and able to work).
  • For the first time, all major industry sectors in the state fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, employing more workers than they did before the pandemic.
  • However, the unemployment rate remains somewhat high in relative comparison to other states as workers reenter the labor force.

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

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