January 27, 2015
Today's U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly data release on state-level employment shows that, while California's employment situation improved solidly in 2014, the state still has the second highest unemployment rate among U.S. states. This illustrates well the depth of the job losses the state experienced during the Great Recession.
California Has Second Highest State Unemployment Rate. Below, a BLS figure shows state unemployment rates as of December 2014. California has the second highest unemployment rate, trailing only Mississippi.
California tends to have higher unemployment rates than most other states and the nation, as illustrated in the graphic below. Prior to the recession, in July 2006, for example, California's unemployment rate was just 0.2 percentage points above the U.S., and 13 states had unemployment rates above California's 4.9 percent level.
Unemployment Rate Fell in 2014, Faster than Most States. California's unemployment rate has fallen from 8.3 percent one year ago to 7.0 percent now. This 1.3 percentage point decline is the 14th-largest unemployment rate drop among U.S. states over the past year, as shown below in a figure produced by BLS.
Significant Regional Variations in Unemployment. California has long had significant regional variations in unemployment. As we noted in our blog post on Friday, non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates range from below 4 percent in parts of the Bay Area to about 21 percent in Imperial and Colusa Counties.
2014 Job Growth Rate Ranks 16th Among U.S. States. Between December 2013 and December 2014, seasonally-adjusted nonfarm employment in California grew by 2.1 percent, as the state's Employment Development Department reported on Friday. This is the 16th-highest rate of employment growth among the states over the past year, according to BLS data, with California trailing the employment growth rates of North Dakota (5.4%), Texas (4.0%), Utah (3.9%), Florida (3.0%), Oregon (3.0%), North Carolina (2.8%), Delaware (2.7%), Georgia (2.7%), Washington State (2.7%), Colorado (2.6%), Arizona (2.5%), South Carolina (2.4%), Tennessee (2.4%), Nevada (2.3%), and Oklahoma (2.2%). In raw numbers, the states with the greatest increase in seasonally-adjusted nonfarm employment over the past year were Texas (up 457,900), California (up 320,300), and Florida (up 230,600).