California’s Unemployment Rate Falls to a New Record Low in September

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  • California added 13,200 jobs in September, bringing the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent, a new record low since 1976 according to the latest numbers from the state Employment Development Department. With 339,600 jobs added from last September, California has created more than 3 million jobs since the economic recovery started in February 2010.
  • California continues to outpace the nation in job gains, with a 2.0 percent year-over-year increase compared with the national growth rate of 1.7 percent.
  • Though the state’s annual labor-force growth remains subdued, it increased by 34,300 workers from August.
  • Over the month, four sectors added jobs, led by an 11,800 gain in the professional and business services sector (largely in administrative support services), followed by leisure and hospitality and government. The mining and logging sector also added jobs. Six sectors reported monthly losses, led by educational and health services, down by 3,700 jobs; information, with a loss of 3,000 jobs; and construction, with 2,000 job reductions.
  • On an annual basis, nine of 11 industries added jobs, with the largest gains in professional and business services, up by 78,200 positions; educational and health services, up by 77,900 jobs; and leisure and hospitality, up by 68,600 jobs. Other services, along with mining and logging, have lost net jobs this year.
  • While generally subdued, all regions of the state saw employment gains.
  • San Francisco and San Mateo counties created 900 jobs from August and 20,900 jobs from last September. Gains were primarily in the education and health services sector, followed by the leisure and hospitality industry. The professional, scientific, and technical services sector and the trade, transportation, and utilities industry recorded job losses, with some reductions in retail and wholesale trade. Still, on an annual basis, most industries, except other services, posted solid gains. The unemployment rate fell to 2.2 percent in the two counties.
  • Santa Clara and San Benito counties added 2,500 jobs in September, mainly in the government sector’s local and state education services. Three large sectors showed losses, mostly following seasonal patterns: professional, scientific, and technical services; information; and education and health. On an annual basis, the region added 36,200 jobs, with all sectors posting solid gains except for trade, transportation, and utilities.
  • Alameda and Contra Costa counties added 4,500 jobs, with the government sector leading the gains, primarily due to the normal seasonal increase in public educational services. Meanwhile, the leisure and hospitality, financial activities, and construction sectors posted declines. Over the year, the two counties have created 23,800 jobs, led by the professional and business services sector (8,000 jobs) and trade, transportation, and utilities (6,100 jobs). The private educational and health services sector added 3,700 jobs from last September, with most of the increase coming from health care and social assistance, up by 3,200 jobs. Only the financial activities industry posted employment declines from a year ago.
  • Marin County’s unemployment rate fell to 2.2 percent in September, with 500 jobs added from August and 4,500 positions created from last year. On an annual basis, all sectors saw some job growth or were at least on par with last year.
  • Sonoma County’s unemployment rate declined to 2.4 percent, and the region posted a gain of 1,800 jobs since August and 5,300 positions year over year. The trade and transportation industries, along with the mining and information sectors, reported some reductions from August, though on an annual basis, the professional and business services sector recorded the largest losses.
  • Napa County’s unemployment rate decreased to 2.5 percent in September, with 700 jobs created from August but 100 fewer jobs from the same time last year. The annual decline was driven by a large drop in the manufacturing industry.
  • Los Angeles County also continued to add a solid number of jobs. The annual 52,100-job increase was driven by the leisure and hospitality sector, which continues a 10-year growth trend that has outpaced all other industries. Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in September, with the 21,600 new jobs driven by the beginning of the school year. The increase in professional and business services jobs was led by administrative, support, and waste services, but the gains were offset by declines in the professional, scientific, and technical services sector. On the other hand, the trade, transportation, and utilities industry reported the largest month-over-month job losses, with a greater-than-average employment downturn in retail trade accounting for more than half of the reductions. The wholesale trade and transportation, warehousing, and utilities sectors accounted for the remaining job losses. On an annual basis, accommodation and food services — along with and arts, entertainment, and recreation — drove job gains in the leisure and hospitality sector. With the increase in professional and business services positions, the sector reached a record-high employment level, with most additions in administrative, support, and waste services, as well as in professional, scientific, and technical services. Those additions were offset by a loss of 1,100 jobs in management of companies and enterprises.

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.

(Photo: iStock/IR_Stone)

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