Unemployment Rates Fall Slightly; Labor Force Tries to Recover

Jobs report in newspaper story

California and Nevada’s job markets are still experiencing slow labor force growth (the pool of individuals who are “willing and able” to work) as both states’ employers move forward under one of the most difficult labor market situations in modern history.

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

California’s October 2021 Employment Numbers
The California report shows the state’s unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent in October 2021 (from a “readjusted” 7.5 percent in September 2021). After 17 months, this unemployment rate is down from its 16 percent peak in April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession hit the economy.

California employers added 96,800 non-farm monthly payroll jobs in October:

  • California’s labor force (pool of individuals willing and able to work) shot up by 117,800 in October 2021 from a year ago and now sits at 19 million. However, it still remains -400,000 below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 of 19.4 million.
  • California has now regained nearly 68 percent (1.83 million jobs) of the approximate 2.7 million jobs lost during March and April of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession transpired.
  • The total number of Californians holding jobs (non-farm payroll, agriculture related, independent contractor/freelancers) was more than 17.6 million, which is up 589,000 from the combined “total” employment this time last year.
  • Non-farm company payroll jobs now total nearly 16.8 million. These jobs (a subset of “total” jobs) increased by 811,200 (5.1 percent) from October 2020 to October 2021 compared to a U.S. annual gain of 4.1 percent. Essentially, the state’s year-over-year pace of job growth has more than caught up to the nation’s annualized pace in the post-pandemic jobs recovery era, although it took 15 months (May 2020 – July 2021).
  • Ten of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in October.
  • Professional and business services (+39,500) led the way thanks to large gains in employment services.
  • Leisure and hospitality (+21,500) and trade, transportation and utilities (+14,900) also did well thanks to growth in food services and drinking places, as well as strong hiring in the retail trade sector.
  • Government (-4,000) was the only industry sector to lose jobs. The loss reflects reductions in city and county government (excluding education).

Nevada’s October 2021 Employment Numbers
The Nevada report shows employment in the state is up 11,200 jobs in October 2021, but still down by -85,300 jobs compared to April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic recession hit the economy. It’s a large gap continuing to close very slowly as individuals re-enter (and also leave) the labor force (pool of people saying they are willing and able to work).

The state’s October 2021 unemployment rate stands at 7.3 percent, down from a “readjusted” 7.5 percent in September — but still up from 3.7 percent in February of 2020 (pre-pandemic economy). The state’s total number of jobs is up 96,700 from October 2020 to October 2021 (a 7.6 percent increase), with total employment now standing at more than 1.36 million.

Nevada employers added jobs for the 18th consecutive month in October:

  • Las Vegas employment increased by 8,400 jobs (0.9 percent) from September 2021 (month before) and by 76,700 jobs (8.5 percent) since October 2020.
  • Reno/Sparks regional employment increased by 1,300 jobs (0.5 percent) from September 2021 (month before) and by 11,400 jobs (4.8 percent) since October 2020.
  • Carson City employment increased 200 jobs (0.7 percent) from September 2021 (month before) and by 1,200 jobs (4.1 percent) since October 2020.
  • This report shows rebounding employment growth in Nevada, the second-strongest month of the past year.
  • This growth was spread across many different industries, with professional and business services growing the most.

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