CA Sees Jobs & Labor Force Rise; NV Continues Slow Recovery

Restaurant worker

California not only added a noticeable amount of jobs in February, it also saw an uptick in individuals reentering the labor force (the pool of individuals willing and able to work). Meanwhile, Nevada’s job market continued reversing course — yet very slowly.

Although both states’ economies have recuperated differently from the COVID-19 recession last year, economists say this spring will experience a much faster-paced jobs recovery than in autumn and winter.

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

California’s February 2021 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in February 2021 (from a “readjusted” 9 percent in January). Employers added 141,000 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in February:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) jumped by 276,000 in February 2021 to more than 18.9 million, although it still remains -488,000 below its level in February 2020.
  • California’s employment increase in February 2021 accounted for an astounding 34 percent of all U.S. jobs added to the economy that month (the state is playing catch-up to the rest of the nation after suffering from above-average unemployment for many months on end).
  • California has now regained 39 percent (or 1.05 million jobs) of the approximate 2.7 million jobs lost during March and April of 2020.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 16 million.
  • However, the total number of Californians holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, independent contractor/freelancers) was nearly 17.3 million, which is down 1.25 million from the combined “total” employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm payroll jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) decreased by 1.66 million (-9.4 percent) from February 2020 to February 2021 compared to a U.S. annual loss of -6.2 percent.
  • Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in February. Leisure and hospitality (102,200) experienced the largest month-over increase thanks in large part to the sub-category of full-service restaurants. “Other services” (14,100) and educational/health services (13,000) also had large gains due to strength in the sub-categories of personal care services and ambulatory health care services (respectfully).
  • Government (-6,000) suffered the largest month-over job losses due to reductions in federal government jobs (census and postal workers).
  • The increase in farm jobs (2,900) marks seven consecutive months of gains in this category.

Nevada’s February 2021 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in Nevada is up 2,400 jobs in February 2021, but it's still down by 153,500 jobs over the past 12 months (compared to February 2020) — a large gap that continues closing very slowly.

The state’s February unemployment rate stands at 8.3 percent, down from a “readjusted” 8.5 percent in January but up from 3.7 percent reported in February of last year. The state added jobs for the 10th consecutive month in February:

  • Las Vegas employment increased by 1,300 jobs (0.1 percent) since January; but decreased -145,600 jobs (-13.8 percent) since February 2020.
  • Reno/Sparks regional employment increased by 3,300 jobs (1.4 percent) since January; but decreased -6,700 jobs (-2.7 percent) since February 2020.
  • Carson City employment increased by 600 jobs (2 percent) since January; but decreased -600 jobs (-1.9 percent) since February 2020.
  • Accommodation/food services added back the most jobs over the month in Nevada, with the unadjusted gains concentrated in food services (which rose 2,700 compared to 400 in accommodation).
  • Construction employment rose sharply as well in Nevada, particularly in the Las Vegas area, which is not uncommon given that construction has added jobs in February for the past nine years.
  • Broadly speaking, the overall trend for Nevada in February 2021 remains largely flat and is similar to what the state experienced in January, with ongoing significant disruption highly concentrated in the Las Vegas area.
  • Recent news that vaccine eligibility is expanding to the general population will increasingly help, as will the news that a large trade show has received approval for an in-person convention in early June in Las Vegas.

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