This Week's Falling-Unemployment News for CA and NV

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New data released this week shows California and Nevada’s respective job markets continued their slow and steady recoveries in August 2020 as the national economy continues climbing out of a recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The size of the reduced labor force, those willing and able to work, since August 2019 is still a concern in terms of capacity to generate the same economic output as the same month of the previous year as this recovery continues," said Robert Eyler, Sonoma State University economist and Redwood CU board member. "This is especially true in California where there are 3.7 percent fewer people available for work or actually working compared to August 2019, almost 711,000 workers."

For Nevada, Eyler said that the slower tourism season is likely to have some effects on rehiring in both Reno and Las Vegas as fall and winter unfold, especially if there is a general reservation to travel if pandemic cases rise again. "That can act as a drag on recovery in Nevada, where 13.2 percent unemployment is the highest of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. after seasonal adjustments. The two big concerns for jobs going forward in the state is consumer and business confidence as we head toward the presidential election and national caseloads of COVID-19 possibly rising again in fall and winter."

The following are the latest figures released by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Nevada Employment, Training and Rehabilitation Department (DETR).

California’s August 2020 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate falling to 11.4 percent in August (from 13.3 percent in July). Employers added 101,900 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in August:

  • California has now regained just over one-third (34 percent) of the approximate 2.62 million jobs lost during March and April.
  • Non-farm jobs now total nearly 15.9 million. However, the total number of Californians holding jobs (both non-farm and agriculture related) was almost 16.6 million — down nearly 2.1 million from “total” employment this time last year.
  • Total non-farm jobs decreased by 1.6 million (9 percent) from August 2019 to August 2020 compared to a U.S. annual loss of 6.8 percent.
  • Six of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Government (66,100) saw the largest job gain due to temporary federal hiring for the 2020 U.S. Census, as well as local education. Trade/transportation/utilities (26,000) was buoyed by the sub-areas of transportation/warehousing and general merchandise stores.
  • Losses in leisure/hospitality (-14,600) posted the largest industry job loss.
  • The number of unemployed Californians was 2.13 million, a decrease of approximately 408,700 over the month, but up by 1.37 million compared to last year.

Nevada’s August 2020 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in Nevada is up 6,500 over the month, but it dropped 133,600 over the year. The state’s unemployment rate stands at 13.2 percent — down 0.8 percent points from July but up 9.4 percent compared to August of last year.

Nevada’s unemployment insurance claims decreased by 17,100 over the month (26 percent) but are still up 39,900 over the year (412 percent).

The state added jobs for the fourth straight month in August, although at a slower pace than May, June and July:

  • Total employment rose by 0.5 percent over the month, about half the U.S. growth rate (1 percent).
  • The trade/transportation/utilities sector added the most jobs (4,500) over the month.
  • Leisure and hospitality (-15.9 percent) and “other” services (-10.8 percent) are down the most year over year.
  • The decline in Nevada’s unemployment brings the state’s unemployment rate below the peak of the Great Recession of 2007 – 2009, when it hit 13.7 percent.

CA and NV in ‘Household Pulse Survey’
The U.S. Census “Household Pulse Survey” is showing slow job market improvement from a household/worker perspective in California and Nevada.

Survey results from Aug. 31 revealed that the percentage of adults in California who expected someone in their household to experience a loss in employment income over the next four weeks was 34 percent — the lowest it’s been since the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a deep recession that many economists think took place from February to April. This percentage in California ranged from 42 – 46 percent from April to July.

Nevada’s household response came in at 31 percent, also the lowest it’s ever reached (ranging from 40 – 48 percent from April to July).

Although the survey is highly subjective to workers’ immediate feelings and emotions about their ties to the job market and labor force participation, its movement gives context into where the economy and local job markets may be headed.

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