California’s unemployment rate holds at 4.1% as hiring slows

California’s unemployment rate held at 4.1% in December, the same as November, according to the state Employment Development Department. Employers in the Golden State created 16,200 nonfarm payroll jobs versus 26,800 in November. The jobless figures and new hires derive from separate surveys of California businesses and households.

“While the focus is on tech layoffs,” according to Jeffrey Michael, Director of Public Policy Programs and professor of public policy at Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, “it is also worth noting that holiday retail hiring was lower than normal this season and is reflected in these reports. Despite weaknesses in both of these sectors, there is still solid job growth in December and the overall job market in California remains in pretty good


December 2022 was the 15th straight month of gains in California’s nonfarm payroll hiring, according to the EDD. The monthly average addition of new hires was 53,820, for 807,300 jobs created in the past 15 months. In the meantime, U.S., employers added 223,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in December 2022, with a jobless rate of 3.5%, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ten of California’s 11 industry sectors had growth of nonfarm payroll jobs in December, matching November’s figures. Education and healthcare employers topped the chart, with 8,200 new hires in December. Home healthcare employers in part fueled employment growth.

The next sector on a hiring upswing was the construction industry, adding 7,500 jobs. Specialty contractors played a part in construction employment growth, according to the EDD.

Leisure and hospitality employers registered 5,300 new hires in December, versus 13,900 in November. The number of December’s agriculture jobs climbed to 5,100 from November, for an industry total of 416,200 in December. “The agricultural industry had 4,900 more farm jobs in December 2022 versus a year ago,” according to the EDD. It is unclear what impacts the recent rainfall from successive storms will have on employment in the industry this year.

In spite of tech layoffs in San Francisco and Santa Clara (Silicon Valley) counties, unemployment rates dropped to 2% in December versus November’s 2.3% and 2.4%, respectively. Imperial County east of San Diego saw its unemployment rate drop to 14.8% in December from 16.7% in November. The employment gap between inland and coastal regions persists in the U.S.’s most populous state.

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