California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's March 2020 state jobs report earlier this month. Statewide nonfarm employment dropped by an estimated 99,500 in March. The official unemployment rate jumped to 5.3 percent, after holding at 3.9 percent for the previous seven months. The survey reflects job losses through the second week of March, before the statewide shelter in place order took effect. California’s losses represented 14 percent of the national estimate of 701,400 jobs lost over the same period. The state has 11.5 percent of the nation’s jobs, so its losses were only slightly disproportionate.
The figure below summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. Overall employment in the state as of the second week of March was still 0.9 percent above the level in March 2019, similar to the national figure of 1.0 percent. Just over two-thirds of the state’s net losses in March came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, hotels, and entertainment businesses. The same thing happened at the national level, where just under two-thirds of the net losses came from leisure and hospitality.