California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's September 2021 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment grew by an estimated 47,400 in September, the smallest monthly gain since January. The official unemployment rate remained at 7.5 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 September 6 to September 12. While California gained fewer net jobs than in previous months, it accounted for 24.4 percent of the national estimate of 194,200 net jobs gained in September, more than double 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 September was 5.6 percent below the level of February 2020, considerably worse than the national figure of 3.3 percent. About a third of this 2.3 percentage point gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. The leisure/hospitality gap closed somewhat in September.
The next graph isolates aggregate employment in the other sectors and shows that the gap between the state and the rest of the nation was little changed in September.
The next figure summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. The leisure and hospitality sector discussed above accounted nearly half the statewide net gain. The professional/technical services, manufacturing, and information sectors, which generally pay well and produce goods or services that can be sold outside the state, all showed healthy job gains in September.