California Delivers Record-Setting Unemployment Numbers in April

Economic Straight Talk

  • California’s unemployment rate fell to a new record low of 4.2 percent in April according to the latest report from the state Employment Development Department, with 39,300 jobs added during the month. California has now gained a total of 2,908,100 jobs since the economic expansion began in February 2010. Over the last year, there were 356,800 jobs added, a 2.1 percent increase. March’s previously reported decline was revised up by 5,400 new jobs. In the first four months of 2018, 98,400 jobs were added in the state, compared with 104,000 jobs created during the same period last year. While California employers added fewer jobs this year, 2018’s increase is still robust considering the historically low unemployment rate.
  • While 815,000 Californians were counted as unemployed in April, this is 13,000 fewer than in March and 139,000 fewer compared with April of last year. All industries except manufacturing added jobs in April, with the construction industry showing the largest increase of 10,000, followed by professional and business services, up by 8,500 jobs.
  • Over the last year, all California industries except those in the category listed as other services added jobs, with the largest gains in educational and health services, up by 83,500 positions. Professional and business services added 65,800 jobs, while the construction sector created 59,500 jobs.
  • San Francisco and San Mateo counties’ unemployment rate dropped to 2.1 percent. The region added 4,400 jobs from the previous month, with the leisure and hospitality industry delivering the largest gain of 2,000 jobs, attributed to accommodation and food services. Professional and business services had the second-largest net gain from March of, 2,000 new jobs, with computer systems design and related services driving more than half of this growth.
  • Over the last year, employers created 20,400 new jobs in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Professional and business services continued to lead this year-over-year growth, adding 10,000 new jobs. This was followed by gains in professional, scientific, and technical services, which added 9,400 new jobs, while information jobs increased by 5,300.
  • In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the unemployment rate fell to 2.7 percent, with 4,700 jobs added over the month. The leisure and hospitality sector was responsible for much of the gain with 2,400 new jobs. Other industries also showed solid gains, while health care and social assistance lost jobs, particularly in ambulatory health care services, though this was one of the sectors that gained a solid number of jobs over the last year. Since last April, employers created 24,100 jobs, with nearly one-quarter of them in construction, followed by professional and business services; manufacturing; trade, transportation, and utilities; private educational and health services; government; and leisure and hospitality.
  • In Santa Clara and San Benito counties, the unemployment rate declined to 2.4 percent, with 10,000 jobs added over the month. The largest increase was in construction, largely specialty trade contractors, which added 2,300 jobs, well above the historical 400 jobs increase at this time of the year. Over the year, employers added a total of 38,100 positions. The information sector showed the largest year-over-year increase, with 9,700 jobs added, marking the 99th consecutive month of annual job gains. Manufacturing followed, with net gains of 7,800 jobs, driven by positions in computer and electronic products.
  • Marin County’s unemployment rate declined to 2.1 percent, with an increase of 400 jobs over the last year, mostly driven by gains in the construction sector, as well as increases in manufacturing and leisure and hospitality. The area lost 1,300 jobs in professional and business services on an annual basis.
  • Sonoma County’s unemployment rate fell to 2.5 percent, and the area added 600 new jobs during the month and 3,100 jobs over the year, mostly in manufacturing.
  • Napa County’s unemployment rate declined to 2.8 percent, and employers added 700 new jobs over the month, with almost half of them in leisure and hospitality.
  • Los Angeles’ unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent, with 4,900 jobs added over the month. The majority of the monthly increase was due to spring break, which fueled job gains in the leisure and hospitality sector. Construction reported the second largest month-over-month job gains, led by specialty trade contractors and construction of buildings. Professional, scientific, and technical services and management of companies also showed solid gains.
  • Over the last year, Los Angeles gained 64,700 new jobs, led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 19,400 jobs, primarily from accommodation and food services and arts, entertainment, and recreation. The educational and health services sector created 18,400 jobs on an annual basis, with health care and social assistance responsible for 80 percent of the growth, while educational services posted the remaining industry job gains. The professional and business services sector followed, with gains concentrated in administrative and support and waste services, which includes employment agencies. Other services posted the largest decline over the year, followed by trade, transportation, and utilities.

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.

(Promotional photo: iStock/monkeybusinessimages)

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