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CA’s Unemployment Ticks Up; More Nevadans Looking for Work

California’s job market grew steadily in September 2023, although its labor force (those willing and able to work) is still -200,000 below the state’s pre-pandemic level in early 2020. Meanwhile, Nevada’s job base kept growing as total non-farm employment stood at 1.57 million workers — yet more residents are looking for work today compared to nine months ago.

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

California’s September 2023 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.7 percent in September 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 8,700 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in September 2023:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) increased by 143,600 in September 2023 from one year before, but it declined -17,700 workers from the month before — and now sits at nearly 19.39 million. It also remains approximately -200,000 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 18.47 million, which is down by -500 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 302,800 (1.7 percent) from September 2022 to September 2023 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 2.1 percent.
  • Five of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in September, with private education and health services (18,200) leading the way thanks to above-average increases in general medical and surgical hospitals, continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and individual and family services.
  • Leisure and hospitality (11,300) also performed well, thanks in part to job gains in the accommodation industry group.
  • Professional and business services (-10,900) posted the largest month-over job loss due to above-average declines in accounting, tax preparation and bookkeeping services, architectural, engineering, and related services, and scientific research and development services.

Nevada’s September 2023 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state was up 7,000 jobs in September 2023 (month-over change) and 50,800 jobs from a year ago (3.4 percent annual increase) — which displays non-farm payroll company/organization growth.

Total non-farm Nevada employment — which includes non-farm payroll, agriculture related, and independent contractor/freelance jobs altogether — stood at more than 1.57 million individuals in September 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 September 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 September 2023:

  • Las Vegas-area employment increased 0.4 percent (4,100 jobs) in September 2023 from the month before and by 36,000 jobs (3.3 percent) since September 2022.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment increased 0.8 percent (2,300 jobs) in September 2023 from the month before and by 8,900 jobs (3.4 percent) since September 2022.
  • Carson City-area employment increased 0.6 percent (200 jobs) in September 2023 from the month before and by 1,300 jobs (4.2 percent) since September 2022.
  • The labor force (individuals who are willing and able to work) in the state grew by about 8,000, and September marked the ninth consecutive month Nevada has experienced an increase in its labor force (this also marks the first time in Nevada’s history that its labor force exceeded 1.6 million).
  • The largest gains in total non-farm employment in Nevada were in the professional and business services, government, and leisure and hospitality sectors.

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

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