Three Takeaways from This Week’s CA and NV Jobs Data Releases

Illustration of job worker

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


  • The pace of job growth/job creation in California and Nevada has slowed over the past couple of months, a trend that might continue going into October and November.
  • As year-over-year job growth remains positive in approximately half of job sectors (or well over half) within local regions across California and Nevada, it is unfortunately still negative in other key sectors. However, those negative gaps continue to slowly narrow — yet imperfectly.
  • Individual California and Nevada unemployment rates are perhaps 2 – 3 percentage points higher than the officially reported numbers since a noticeable amount of individuals have “left” the labor market (pool of adults and teenagers willing and able to work). However, this 2 – 3 percentage point difference is often in play even in a healthy economy “at capacity” with a low unemployment rate (such as in January/February 2020), making it a perpetual trend.

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

California’s September 2020 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate falling to 11 percent in September (from 11.4 percent in August). Employers added 96,000 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in September:

  • California has now regained 38 percent of the approximate 2.62 million jobs lost during March and April.
  • Non-farm jobs now total nearly 16 million. However, the total number of Californians holding jobs (both non-farm and agriculture related) was more than 16.6 million — down 2.08 million from “total” employment this time last year.
  • Total non-farm jobs decreased by 1.49 million (8.5 percent) from September 2019 to September 2020 compared to a U.S. annual loss of 6.4 percent.
  • Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Leisure/hospitality (48,400 positions) saw the largest job gain after experiencing the largest month-over-month loss in August thanks to large growth in the accommodation/food services sector. Month-over-month growth in trade/transportation/utilities (30,600) was aided by gains in retail trade (specifically the sub-category of clothing/clothing accessory stores).
  • Government (-14,300) posted the largest industry job losses, especially in the federal government sub-category due largely to layoffs in U.S. Census worker employment.

Nevada’s September 2020 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in Nevada is up 3,400 jobs over the month of September, but it's still down by 127,600 jobs over the past 12 months — a large gap that continues closing very slowly. The state’s September unemployment rate stands at 12.6 percent, down from 13.3 percent in August but up from 3.7 percent compared to September of last year.

Nevada’s unemployment insurance claims decreased by more than 15,200 during September (31 percent monthly drop), but are still up 25,900 over the past 12 months (307 percent annual increase).

The state added jobs for the fifth straight month in September, although these monthly gains have slowed sharply for the second month in a row as Nevada’s labor market continues to shift from a rapid policy-driven rebound to a more traditional recovery:

  • Total employment has regained just under half of the more than 287,000 jobs lost from February to April, and the unemployment rate has fallen sharply since it reached a record high of 30 percent earlier this year. Total employment is now at 1.3 million jobs.
  • After a strong initial recovery when a large number of businesses were simultaneously able to reopen, the state has moved into a slower phase of recovery that depends largely on individual responses to COVID-19 in the short term.
  • Trade/transportation/utilities added the most jobs (6,600) over September, while leisure/hospitality dropped 16 percent and wholesale trade fell 16 percent (both down the most out of all sectors).

CA and NV in ‘Household Pulse Survey’
Survey results from Sept. 30 show 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 33 percent — the lowest it’s ever been since the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a deep recession earlier this year (and down from 34.5 percent in the prior month). This percentage in California ranged from 42 – 46 percent from April to July.

Nevada’s household response came in at 30.5 percent, also the lowest it has ever reached (and ranged from 40 – 48 percent from April to July). It is down from 31.5 percent in the prior month.

The weekly data is from the U.S. Census “Household Pulse Survey.” 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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