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California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's October 2020 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment rose by an estimated 145,500 in October, and the September increase was revised upward from 96,000 to 102,400. The official unemployment rate dropped sharply from 11.1 percent in September to 9.3 percent in October, but remains 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 October 11 to October 17. California accounted for 22.8 percent of the national estimate of 639,100 net jobs gained in October, nearly double 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 October was 8.4 percent below the level of February, somewhat worse than the national figure of 6.6 percent. More than a third of the gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. Aggregate 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. While the state’s hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector again recovered the most jobs, other sectors including construction, professional/technical services, and health care also recorded impressive gains.


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