California’s unemployment rate rises to 4.1%; employers add 19,900 jobs

Employers in California added 19,900 nonfarm payroll jobs in August after registering 84,800 new hires in July. But the Golden State’s unemployment rate rose to 4.1% in August from July’s 3.9%, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The last time that California’s unemployment rate had a month-over-month spike was in May 2020. The Golden State has clawed back 98.3%, or 2,711,600, of the 2,758,900 nonfarm job layoffs, from March and April 2020, when a shelter-in-place order was in place from Gov. Gavin Newsom to slow transmission of COVID-19, according to the state EDD.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.7% in August compared with July’s 3.5%, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. employers added

In August, seven of the Golden State’s 11 industry sectors added nonfarm payroll jobs, compared with 10 job-gaining sectors in July. Leisure and hospitality employers led the way in August with 9,800 new hires. Most of these job gains were in accommodation (hotels and motels) occupations. California’s leisure and hospitality employment crashed during the COVID-19 lockdown, as tourism ground to a near-halt.

California’s trade, transportation and utilities employers added 6,000 new hires in August. Most of these employment gains occurred in the retail subsector, notably in car and parts dealers, food and beverage stores, and health and personal care stores, according to the state EDD. The largest month-over-month employment loss took place in the information sector, down 3,800 jobs, in August. These job losses occurred across film and video industries, along with data processing and hosting services.

At the same time, the ongoing drought is slamming California farm employment. Farm employer payrolls decreased 3,800 jobs in August from July.

Avocado and wild rice farmers, for example, are seeing diminished harvests, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. Water cutbacks to farmers are a driving force in this trend.

California’s unemployment rate across its 58 counties varied wildly, an ongoing tendency. Case in point is a state-leading low unemployment rate of 2.1% in San Mateo County south of San Francisco versus a high of 16.2% in Imperial County east of San Diego.

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