CA Job Market Recovery Hits 98.3%; NV Tapers at New Record

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Total non-farm payroll employment in California has recovered 98.3 percent of jobs lost in the labor market two-and-a-half years since the COVID-19 pandemic recession devastated the economy. Meanwhile, Nevada’s job market has plateaued at new record highs after more than recovering from its pandemic-era losses this past summer.

The following are the latest year-over-year and monthly August figures (released Sept. 16) by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR):

California’s August 2022 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent in August 2022 (from a “readjusted” 3.9 percent in July 2022). After 28 months, this unemployment rate is down from its 16.1 percent peak in May 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession hit the economy.

(Related story: Most CA Metro Job Markets Won’t Fully Recover Until Mid-2023)

California employers added 19,900 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in August:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) shot up by 306,200 in August 2022 from a year ago and now sits at nearly 19.36 million. However, it still remains approximately -40,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of nearly 19.4 million.
  • California has now regained more than 98.3 percent (about 2.71 million jobs) of the approximate 2.76 million non-farm payroll 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 nearly 18.56 million, which is up 855,500 from the combined total employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total 17.64 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 677,100 (4 percent) from August 2021 to August 2022 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 4 percent.
  • Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in August. Leisure and hospitality experienced the strongest gains (9,800), with the majority of it occurring in accommodation.
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities (6,000) showed noticeable gains in the retail subsector, with most occurring in motor vehicle/parts dealers, food and beverage stores, and health and personal care stores.
  • Information (-3,800) suffered the largest month-over job loss, due mainly to reductions in motion picture and video industries, as well as data processing and hosting services.
  • August 2022 marked the 11th consecutive month of non-farm job gains.

Nevada’s August 2022 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state is down -600 jobs in August 2022, but up 70,300 jobs from a year ago (a 5.1 percent annual increase).

In fact, total non-farm employment (payroll and independent-contract jobs combined) currently remains at its all-time record high of 1.461 million individuals that was reached just a few months ago (11,600 above the previous peak in early 2020).

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. Total non-farm employment now stands well above its pre-pandemic peak before this pandemic employment fallout. The market has experienced a slow-and-steady positive trend that continued as individuals re-entered (and also left) the labor force (pool of individuals saying they are willing and able to work) over this period.

Nevada’s August 2022 unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent (from a “readjusted” 4.4 percent in July), which is 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.

Overall, Nevada employers added jobs for the 28th consecutive month in August 2022:

  • Employment gains remain strong in goods-producing industries such as construction and manufacturing, but have dropped somewhat in administrative services and leisure and hospitality.
  • Unemployment remains low despite an increase in the labor force participation rate, suggesting strong ongoing demand for workers and a competitive labor market.
  • Las Vegas-area employment increased by 0.1 percent (1,200 jobs) from July to August 2022 (month before) and by 50,800 jobs (5 percent) since August 2021.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment increased by less than 0.01 percent (100 jobs) from July to August 2022 (month before) and by 10,000 jobs (4 percent) since August 2021.
  • Carson City-area employment increased by 0.3 percent (100 jobs) from July to August 2022 (month before) and by 900 jobs (2.9 percent) since August 2021.

Ongoing Labor Market Perspective
These California and Nevada job market recoveries don’t account for lost ground and opportunity costs coming out of the pandemic.

Specifically in California from mid-2020 to mid-2022, 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 2022 if COVID-19 never impacted the economy and policy decisions, assuming no other negative financial or economic events transpired.

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