All Articles

Media may contact the LAO for assistance with coverage of the state jobs report. Follow @LAOEconTax on Twitter for regular California economy and tax updates.


The state's Employment Development Department (EDD) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics have released preliminary November 2015 jobs data for California. Below, we display some key information from the job report by sector (we describe these key job sectors here). The 13 sectors labeled green are ones in which the rate of job growth in California has exceeded the nation's job growth rate over the past year. The 3 sectors with a black label are ones in which California has seen job growth over the past year, but at a slower rate than the nation. The 2 sectors with a red label are ones in which California has experienced job declines over the past year.

Mediocre Monthly Jobs Report...Longer-Term Trend Still Healthy. Monthly jobs reports are subject to later revision and can be volatile. While it is important not to make too much of any single month's jobs report, the minimal seasonally-adjusted job growth of 5,500 reported in November's preliminary data is disappointing. It is far below the average monthly job growth in the state over the past year, which has placed the state's job growth rate as 7th highest among the 50 states during that period. That being said, the longer-term trend of job growth since the recession continues.

Some Key Sector Data. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, retail trade and private education were the only sectors with job growth of 5,000 or more in November. Jobs in the information sector were down a noteworthy 9,300 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, due apparently to a decline in motion picture industry jobs (a very volatile sector in the data) in Los Angeles County. The professional and technology services sector, key to the state's recent growth, saw a small seasonally-adjusted decline, as the Bay Area and the Silicon Valley experienced slower November job growth as compared to the same month in recent years.

Unemployment and Labor Force Data. The state's official unemployment rate dropped again to 5.7% with statewide seasonally-adjusted employment growing and the number of those actively participating in the state's labor force (by working or looking for work recently) declining. Notably, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Los Angeles County fell to under 6% (specifically, coming in at 5.9%). This is the first time that Los Angeles County's official jobless rate has been below 6% since 2007.

As show in the EDD map below (also available here), much of inland and northern California continues to have higher unemployment rates than coastal California. On a county-by-county basis, unemployment rates ranged from 3.1% in San Mateo County to 20.4% in Imperial County.

Labor Force Participation. Trends in labor force participation are key to understanding changes in the official unemployment rate. For the 12 months through October, EDD data shows that civilian labor force participation rates are notably up for 16-19 year olds and also up for those age 65 and over. Overall, participation rates also are up for men and African Americans. At the same time, participation rates are down for those aged 20-24 and 35-44, as well as women overall. This weakness in workforce participation rates is somewhat surprising given the relatively strong job growth of the past year. Over the longer term, the continuing fast growth of the elderly population (a lower percentage of whom participate in the workforce, compared to younger Californians) will be an important driver of California's economic future.

Job Growth by Region. Job growth rates over the past year also have been higher in parts of coastal California (especially the Silicon Valley and the western part of the Bay Area) than in much (but not all) of inland and northern California, as shown in the EDD map below (also available here). In November, the number of nonfarm jobs grew on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in Kern County, which is promising given the declines in the oil sector there over the past year. Meanwhile, the preliminary 1,400 nonfarm job increase in Fresno County was the biggest November jobs bump that area has recorded in years.