CA Job Market Recovery Hits 99.1%; NV’s New Record Remains


Total non-farm payroll employment in California has recovered 99.1 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 remains well within new-record territory after recovering this past summer from its 2020 pandemic-era losses.

The following are the latest year-over-year and monthly September figures by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR) — released Oct. 21:

California’s September 2022 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate declined to 3.9 percent in September 2022 (from a “readjusted” 4.1 percent in August 2022). After 29 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 6,500 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in September 2022:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) shot up by 284,000 in September 2022 from a year ago and now sits at nearly 19.3 million. However, it still remains approximately -100,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of nearly 19.4 million.
  • California has now regained 99.1 percent (more than 2.73 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 more than 18.54 million, which is up 755,000 from the combined total employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total 17.66 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 712,000 (4.2 percent) from September 2021 to September 2022 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 3.9 percent.
  • Five of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in September. Education and health services (15,000) showed the largest month-over gains thanks to strength in payrolls within colleges, universities, and professional schools. Leisure and hospitality’s gains (8,700) came largely from special food services, such as catering and food trucks (one example).
  • Losses in government (-16,100) by and large were due to weakness in local government hiring, outside of education. For example, reductions in administration and services transpired.

Nevada’s September 2022 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state is up 3,600 jobs in September 2022, but up 66,000 jobs from a year ago (a 4.8 percent annual increase).

In fact, total non-farm employment (payroll and independent-contract jobs combined) currently remains at its all-time record high of 1.463 million individuals that was reached in mid-2022.

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 September 2022 unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent (from a “readjusted” 4.4 percent in August), 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 29th consecutive month in September 2022:

  • The unemployment rate remained unchanged (4.4 percent) for the third month in a row, but this happened despite an increase in the labor force participation rate from 60.3 to 60.6 percent as nearly 10,000 more people were working or looking for work in September.
  • Las Vegas-area employment increased by 0.2 percent (2,100 jobs) from August to September 2022 (month before) and by 51,900 jobs (5.1 percent) since September 2021.
  • Reno/Sparks-area employment increased by 0.7 percent (1,900 jobs) from August to September 2022 (month before) and by 11,600 jobs (4.7 percent) since September 2021.
  • Carson City-area employment increased by 0.3 percent (100 jobs) from August to September 2022 (month before) and by 900 jobs (2.9 percent) since September 2021.
  • Localized unemployment rates were 5.3 percent in the Las Vegas area, 3.1 percent in Reno, and 3.4 percent in the Carson area in September 2022. In Nevada’s counties, the lowest unemployment rate was in White Pine County at 2.4 percent, while Clark County and Nye County had the highest rate at 5.3 percent.

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 2022 if COVID-19 never impacted the economy and policy decisions, assuming no other negative financial or economic events transpired.

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