CA Job Market Recovers 90% from COVID; NV Reaches 99%

Kitchen worker

After two years since the COVID-19 pandemic recession hit the economy, total non-farm employment in California has recovered nearly 90 percent of jobs lost in the labor market, and Nevada has crawled back 99 percent. However, these recoveries don’t account for lost ground and opportunity costs coming out of the pandemic.

The labor force — the pool of individuals willing and able to work — has shrunk 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. State job markets may have been even more robust by 2022 if COVID-19 never impacted the economy and policy decisions, assuming no other negative financial or economic events transpired.

The following are the latest year-over-year and monthly March figures recently released by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR):

California’s March 2022 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in March 2022 (from a “readjusted” 5.3 percent in February 2022). After 22 months, this unemployment rate is down from its 16.1 percent peak in May 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession hit the economy.

California employers added 60,200 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in March:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) shot up by 349,600 in March 2022 from a year ago and now sits at more than 19.1 million. However, it still remains -269,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of nearly 19.4 million.
  • California has now regained nearly 90 percent (2.46 million jobs) of the approximate 2.76 million jobs lost during March and April of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession transpired.
  • The total number of Californians holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, independent contractor/freelancers) was 18.2 million, which is up 997,700 from the combined total employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 17.4 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 1.04 million (6.4 percent) from March 2021 to March 2022 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 4.5 percent. While the state’s year-over-year pace of job growth has more than caught up to the nation’s, California’s outstanding total number of jobs/employment is still playing catch-up in relative comparison to the United States.
  • For the second month in a row, none of California’s 11 industry sectors lost jobs.
  • Leisure and hospitality (+14,800) once again posted the largest job increase, with limited-service eating places being the main driver.
  • Professional and business services also posted a notable gain (+10,400) thanks to strength in employment services, as well as accounting/tax preparation and bookkeeping services.
  • California has now enjoyed month-over-month gains in non-farm jobs in 13 of the past 14 months, totaling a 1.38 million increase over that period.

Nevada’s March 2022 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state is up 5,400 jobs in March 2022 and 120,600 jobs from a year ago (a 9.1 percent annual increase).

Nevada’s labor market gap since the COVID-19 recession two years ago has almost nearly closed, now down only -10,000 jobs. It’s an increasingly positive trend that slowly continues as individuals re-enter (and also leave) the labor force (pool of people saying they are willing and able to work).

Nevada’s March 2022 unemployment rate stands at 5 percent, down from a “readjusted” 5.1 percent in February — but still up from 3.7 percent in February of 2020 (pre-pandemic economy). At one point during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the state’s unemployment rate hit 28.2 percent.

Total non-farm employment (payroll and independent jobs combined) currently stands at more than 1.44 million individuals employed/jobs filled — approximately 99 percent recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic employment fallout of 2020.

Overall, Nevada employers added jobs for the 23rd consecutive month in March 2022:

  • Las Vegas-area employment increased by 0.1 percent from February to March 2022 (month before) and by 116,600 jobs (12.6 percent) since March 2021. This region has experienced the fastest job growth in the state over the past 12 months.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment increased by 0.5 percent from February to March 2022 (month before) and by 10,700 jobs (4.4 percent) since March 2021. This region set a new record-high for total local employment.
  • Carson City-area employment decreased by -0.3 percent from February to March 2022 (month before), but by 1,100 jobs (3.6 percent) since March 2021.

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