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California’s unemployment climbs to 5.1%, employers add 23,400 nonfarm new hires

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(The Center Square) – California’s unemployment rate in December climbed to 5.1% from November’s 4.9%, a rise of 0.2 percentage points, while employers registered a month-over increase of 23,400 nonfarm jobs, according to the Golden State’s Employment Development Department.

“We are continuing with the pattern of recent months,” Professor Jeffrey Michael, director of public policy programs at University of the Pacific, told The Center Square in an email. “The survey of business payrolls shows a modest gain in jobs, while the household survey shows a slight decline in employment and another bump up in the unemployment rate. From either perspective, the job market in California is underperforming relative to the U.S. as a whole.

“While not a recession, it reflects slower growth. What was a very tight post-pandemic labor market favoring workers has moderated.”

Labor markets tighten when the supply of job applicants falls relative to employment openings. All things equal, such market conditions can raise the wages and salaries of workers.

The national unemployment rate was 3.7% in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In December, six of 11 of California’s industrial sectors added nonfarm payroll jobs for the third consecutive month. Private education and health services topped the job creation list with 13,200 new hires compared with November’s addition of 10,500. “Above-average increases in nursing care facilities and individual and family service” drove this sector’s job gains, according to the EDD.

Leisure and hospitality employers welcomed 7,100 new hires in December, down from adding 7,900 jobs in November, according to the EDD. Employers’ demand for employees in limited service diners and other eating establishments propelled December’s leisure and hospitality job growth.

Government employment added 8,100 jobs in December compared with a loss of 2,700 jobs in November. City government and special districts with local government jobs within the state have recorded seven straight months of growth, according to the EDD.

Cuts in employment services sparked month-over losses of 3,800 jobs in professional and business services. This sector shed 11,100 jobs in November, the EDD reported.

Imperial County’s 18.3% unemployment rate in December was the highest in the state, but a drop from November’s 18.7%, the EDD reported. Counties in and around California’s Silicon Valley continued to record lower unemployment rates in December. For instance, San Francisco and San Mateo counties registered jobless rates of 3.5% and 3.2%, respectively.

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