CA Labor Scene Continues Sorting Itself Out in Recovery

Carpenter working

California’s labor market continued slowly healing in May as individuals kept re-entering the labor force (adults who are willing and able to work) — which is significant to its ongoing economic recovery. Meanwhile, Nevada’s jobs data for May was still being finalized Friday afternoon (updates to this article will be made soon).

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

California’s May 2021 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate remained 7.9 percent in May 2021 (from a “readjusted” 8 percent in April 2021) — and is down from its 16 percent peak in April 2020. Employers added 104,500 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in May:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) shot up by more than 515,000 in May 2021 from a year ago and now sits at nearly 18.9 million. However, it still remains about -500,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of 19.4 million.
  • California has now regained 52 percent (more than 1.4 million jobs) of the approximate 2.7 million jobs lost during March and April of 2020.
  • The total number of Californians holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, independent contractor/freelancers) was more than 17.4 million, which is up 1.89 million from the combined “total” employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 16.35 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 1.22 million (8.1 percent) from May 2020 to May 2021 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 8.9 percent (the state is still somewhat playing catch-up to the rest of the nation after suffering from above-average unemployment for many months on end).
  • Nine of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in May. Leisure and hospitality (62,300) continued to have the state’s largest month-over increase thanks to large gains in accommodations and food services and drinking places, as well as in arts, entertainment, and recreation. Information’s large job increase (11,200) was in large part due to gains in motion picture and sound recording industries.
  • Construction (-1,600) suffered the largest month-over job reduction due to losses in non-residential building construction and building foundation and exterior contractors.

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