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California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's May 2020 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment rose by an estimated 141,600 in May, and the April decline was revised upward from 2,344,700 to 2,415,000. The official unemployment rate was 16.3 percent, similar to the 16.4 percent April figure and well above the estimates of 5.3 percent in March and 3.9 in February. The survey reflects job changes through the week of May 10 to May 16, when the state had been partially reopened. California accounted for 5.6 percent of the national estimate of 2.5 million net jobs gained in May, well below its 11.5 percent of the nation’s total payroll jobs. The state was somewhat slower to reopen its economy than most other states were.  

The figure below summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. Overall employment in the state as of the middle of May was 14.1 percent below the level of February, somewhat worse than the national figure of 12.8 percent. California’s job gains in May were driven by construction, leisure and hospitality (specifically restaurants), health (mainly dentist offices), and manufacturing. The same pattern prevailed at the national level.


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