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California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's October 2021 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment grew by an estimated 96,800 in October, the largest monthly gain since July. The official unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 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 October 10 to October 16. California’s growth accounted for 18.2 percent of the national estimate of 531,000 net jobs gained in October, well 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 September was 5.0 percent below the level of February 2020, considerably worse than the national figure of 2.8 percent. About a third of this 2.2 percentage point gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. The leisure/hospitality gap was little changed in October.

The next graph isolates aggregate employment in the other sectors and shows that the gap between the state and the rest of the nation narrowed slightly in October.

The next figure summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. Unusually, the leisure and hospitality sector discussed above did not add the most net jobs in October: the administrative services sector added more, almost entirely in the temporary help subsector. Increases in temporary jobs tend to be followed by increases in permanent jobs. The professional/technical services, construction, and retail trade sectors also all had significant job gains in October.


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