Unemployment claims are a useful indicator of the health of the state’s economy. As the figure below shows, unemployment claims have been near historic lows for over a year. February 2019 claims continued to be low by historic standards, totaling 184,000. (We apply a “seasonal adjustment” to the claims data because some months are predictably higher or lower than others.)
Since December 2018, California has averaged 181,000 claims per month. This is up a bit from the 173,000 claims per month during the summer and fall of 2018. In March, claims were about 4 percent higher than six months prior. As the graph below shows, unemployment claims typically rise over the six months leading into a recession. The slight uptick over recent months, however, is more modest than the typical increase leading into a recession. On average, claims increase 8 percent over the six months leading into a recession.
Source: United States Department of Labor with LAO calculations