California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's July 2021 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment grew by an estimated 114,400 in July, the biggest gain since February. The official unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent, less than half the peak of 16.0 percent last April at the height of the lockdown but still nearly double the pre-pandemic level of 3.9 percent last February. The survey reflects job changes through the week of July 12 to July 18. California accounted for 12.1 percent of the national estimate of 943,000 net jobs gained in July, slightly above its 11.6 percent of the nation’s total payroll jobs as of February 2020.
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 June was 6.4 percent below the level of February 2020, considerably worse than the national figure of 3.7 percent. Nearly half of this 2.7 percentage point gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. California leisure/hospitality employment has grown strongly since January, but remains far more depressed than its national counterpart.
The next graph isolates aggregate employment in the other sectors and shows that the gap between the state and the rest of the nation did not change much in July.
The next figure summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. The leisure and hospitality sector discussed above again accounted for about half of the statewide net gain. The local government sector also had a big jump in seasonally adjusted jobs, as most schools went into the month with low staffing levels and as such had many fewer layoffs than usual for July.