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California's Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released California's December 2021 state jobs report today. Statewide nonfarm employment grew by an estimated 50,700 in December, equivalent to 3.6 percent growth on an annual basis. The official unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent, less than half the peak of 16.0 percent last April at the height of the lockdown but still much higher than the pre-pandemic level of 3.9 percent last February. The survey reflects job changes through the week of December 12. California’s growth accounted for 25 percent of the national estimate of 199,000 net jobs gained in December, more than twice its share of the U.S. labor market (11.6 percent of the nation’s total payroll jobs).

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 December was 4.4 percent below the level of February 2020, considerably worse than the national figure of 2.3 percent. About a third of this 2.1 percentage point gap is attributable to the leisure and hospitality sector which includes restaurants, bars, and hotels. With the December jobs figures, the leisure/hospitality gap between the state and nation continued to close slowly as it has over the past several months.


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 December.

The next figure summarizes nonfarm employment by sector based on the monthly survey of employers. The leisure and hospitality sector discussed above added the most net jobs in December, followed professional services and the transportation, warehouse, and utilities sector.  


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