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California’s Unemployment Rate Falls to New Pandemic Low

California’s jobless rate fell to 6.9% in November, the lowest unemployment rate in the state since March 2020, even as hiring slowed down in the past month. New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals this new low. In October, the jobless rate was at 7.3%. However, even with this new low, California still has the highest jobless rate in the country. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California hiring has slowed down and employers only created about 45,000 new jobs last month. However, since February, the state has had almost one million hires. While the state obviously still has a way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels, the jobless rate falling to a new pandemic low is a boost to the state’s labor market.

Across the country, in various states, employers and businesses have faced unprecedented problems when it comes to hiring and layoffs. As a result, the national labor market has tightened because of the unique situation the country is in as the pandemic — which has become quite fluid — continues on. 

When the pandemic first began in 2020, many employees were laid off because of a lack of business activity and stay-at-home orders. In California specifically, about 2.7 million jobs were lost in the first two months of the pandemic in 2020 because of the statewide stay-at-home order put in place. Layoffs continued into 2021, though things began to look brighter as more Californians got vaccinated and when the pandemic first began to appear as if it was slowing down, or even going away.

However, the Delta variant changed this — much like the Omicron variant is changing things for many now. The entire nation has been gripped by a labor shortage, as many workers have not returned to the workforce as expected, for various reasons. Pandemic concerns, child care worries, and career changes or retirement have kept the labor market tight as people don’t return to work in mass waves.

However, the past few months have seen an increase in hiring — including in California. Though hiring has slowed down in many regards, California has regained about 70% of the jobs lost when the pandemic first began. The state is still behind the nationwide average of 82% of jobs recovered in other states, though. Even with this slowing down of hiring, California’s new jobs still account for about 22% of the country’s hires. 

New data also shows that the state has about 1.1 million job openings. So, while more hires are happening (even with a slowdown), there are still quite a lot of job openings in the state. As California’s weekly jobless claims have continued to decrease or slow down, employers may have begun to stop laying people off, as they’re not sure if they will be able to find another worker to take one’s place. As a result, the labor market in the state and in the country is tightening. As the Omicron variant continues to surge across the state, there’s no telling if it will impact the labor market or not. 

 

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