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California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's September 2020 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment rose by an estimated 96,000 in September, and the August increase was revised upward from 101,900 to 113,800. The official unemployment rate was 11.0 percent, slightly down from 11.2 percent in August but far above the estimate of 3.9 in February before the COVID-19 pandemic caused large-scale upheavals. The survey reflects job changes through the week of September 6 to September 12. California accounted for 14.5 percent of the national estimate of 661,300 net jobs gained in September, above its 11.5 percent of the nation’s total payroll jobs as of February.

The figure below shows how employment has evolved in both the state and the nation since the start of the pandemic. Overall employment in the state as of the middle of August was 9.2 percent below the level of February, somewhat worse than the national figure of 7.0 percent. About a third of the gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. Employment in other sectors has also recovered more slowly in the state than in the nation as a whole.


The next figure summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. In addition to leisure and hospitality, California’s local government, retail, manufacturing, other services, information, and private education sectors have been notably harder hit than their national counterparts.


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