Strong year for California’s job market – Maybe?

Russ Steele

The Sac Bee has this breathless story about CA jobs HERE.

Here’s some good news: California added jobs at a faster pace than all but six other states last year.

The number of employed Californians grew by 263,000, or 1.9 percent, during 2011, significantly higher than the 1.1 percent nationwide growth rate.

No state added more jobs than California. Only North Dakota, Utah, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming and Texas saw the number of jobs increase by a higher percentage. (See map below)

Those encouraging numbers do come with a caveat: California is digging itself out of a deeper hole than most other states. Its unemployment rate of 11.1 percent is still much higher than the nationwide rate of 8.5 percent.

And even if California continues to add jobs at the healthy pace set in 2011, it will not reach pre-recession employment levels until late 2014.

The big questions is were these new CA Jobs just more low paying service jobs, or were they higher paying jobs like those North Dakota and Texas.  In the same paper Dan Walters has some insight on the CA job market.

Dan Walters more measures view of the CA’s job market HERE.

California lost well over a million jobs during the recession, so it could easily take four more years to achieve pre-recession employment. And even if it does, the unemployment rate could remain relatively high because our population is still growing by about 350,000 persons a year, thus generating more potential workers.

Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Californians have either dropped out of the labor force or have been forced into low-paying and/or part-time jobs. Federal surveys indicate the state’s real rate of unemployment or underemployment is more like 20 percent.

It would, therefore, take many years of robust job growth to truly restore income-producing employment to pre-recession levels, and that would require countless billions of dollars in private, job-creating investment.

Here is my final thought. Does this chart mislead the reader? Note that the top of the scale is 1.8% What would have been the graphical impact if the scale had started at 2%. Note that all the other 4 states would be in the same position if the scale started at 2% and CA would not be in the top five.  Your call.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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