California jobless rate dips half-percentage point to 6.5%

Jan 21, 2022, 11:06 AM | Updated: 2:55 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s unemployment rate dipped a half-percentage point in December as the most populous state added 50,700 nonfarm jobs, accounting for more than a quarter of the nation’s 199,000 new jobs for the month, according to new data released Friday.

The state has now regained nearly 72% of the 2.7 million jobs it lost in the early months of the pandemic when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order in the spring of 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“In a tug-of-war between the positive economic momentum of the state’s economy and the headwind from COVID, California’s economy is making slow but steady progress forward,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University.

But he noted the full impact of the omicron wave had not been felt when the the mid-month jobless survey was conducted.

Among other impacts, that forced airlines to cancel holiday flights, businesses to keep employees working from home and schools to revert to online teaching. It also prompted more parents to remain home and added to what has become known as the “great resignation” phenomenon.

California’s 6.5% jobless rate is down from 9.3% a year ago as the state added nearly a million jobs since December 2020, the state’s Employment Development Department reported. The hiring boost last month still trails an average gain of 97,200 jobs in earlier months last year until a slowing in November and now December.

California also remained well above the national jobless rate of 3.9%.

The hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector led last month’s increase by adding more than 15,000 jobs, with significant gains in food services and drinking places, the department said, despite pressures from the latest omicron wave.

Ten of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in December, and the professional and business services sector has now regained all the jobs it lost at the start of the pandemic.

A 6% increase in nonfarm jobs in 2021 represented the largest calendar-year increase for the state since 1990, the department said.

But a major issue still remains the “disappearing workforce in California,” said Michael Bernick, a former director of the Employment Development Department and a lawyer at the Duane Morris law firm.

The state remains nearly 920,000 workers below those employed in January 2020, just before the pandemic, he said.

New state-level job turnover data showed 1.1 million California job openings at the end of November, a number that has persisted since August even as employers scramble to find workers. Yet there were 415,000 voluntary resignations in November.

“Employers continue to report that even job seekers who respond to job openings fail to appear at interviews,” Bernick said.

Officials revised the state’s November unemployment rate by 0.1 percentage points, to 7%, by adding 3,500 unemployed to its previous tally.

Nearly 356,000 people certified for unemployment insurance during December’s sample week, down from nearly 435,000 in November and more than 1 million a year ago. More than 49,000 initial claims were processed during the sample week, down more than 3,600 from November and a drop of more than 110,000 from a year ago.

Colusa and Imperial counties recorded double-digit jobless rates last month, the worst in the state, while the wealthier San Francisco Bay Area counties of Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara had the lowest rates, below 3%.

“As we go forward this year, we’ll continue taking action to get more folks back to work and support our businesses hit hardest by the pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

An election worker continues the process in counting ballots for the Pennsylvania primary election,...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How mailed ballots slow results in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Counting of mailed ballots in Pennsylvania is drawing renewed scrutiny amid a too-close-to-call U.S. Senate primary between Republicans David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Former President Donald Trump blasted the state’s elections procedures on social media Wednesday even though there are no indications of any wrongdoing with those ballots other than […]
16 hours ago
This photo provided by The Indiana State Police, police investigate a shooting late Monday, May 16,...
Associated Press

Prosecutor: Officer who shot armed motorist was justified

CORYDON, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana police officer who fatally shot a stranded motorist who opened fire on him was justified in doing so, a prosecutor said Wednesday. The Palmyra reserve police officer nearly was struck by a shotgun blast fired by Justin Moore, 31, of Owensboro, Kentucky, Harrison County Prosecutor Otto Schalk said […]
16 hours ago
Pedestrians walk by the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in New York. Stocks closed...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Why is Wall Street close to a bear market?

NEW YORK (AP) — The bears are rumbling toward Wall Street. The stock market’s skid this year has pulled the S&P 500 close to what’s known as a bear market. Rising interest rates, high inflation, the war in Ukraine and a slowdown in China’s economy have caused investors to reconsider the prices they’re willing to […]
16 hours ago
Pedestrians walk by the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in New York. Stocks closed...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Why is Wall Street close to a bear market?

NEW YORK (AP) — The bears are rumbling toward Wall Street. The stock market’s skid this year has pulled the S&P 500 close to what’s known as a bear market. Rising interest rates, high inflation, the war in Ukraine and a slowdown in China’s economy have caused investors to reconsider the prices they’re willing to […]
16 hours ago
Infant formula is stacked on a table during a baby formula drive to help with the shortage Saturday...
Associated Press

Biden invokes Defense Production Act for formula shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas, as he faces mounting political pressure over a domestic shortage caused by the safety-related closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant. The Defense Production Act order requires […]
16 hours ago
Infant formula is stacked on a table during a baby formula drive to help with the shortage Saturday...
Associated Press

Biden invokes Defense Production Act for formula shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas, as he faces mounting political pressure over a domestic shortage caused by the safety-related closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant. The Defense Production Act order requires […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to in April

April brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Suns and Diamondbacks.
California jobless rate dips half-percentage point to 6.5%