In December 2013, California employment grew at an annual rate of 1.6%, the same rate as the previous month and the same rate at which employment grew in the nation as a whole. California added 235,700 jobs over the year, second only to Texas. The largest increases occurred in the accommodation and food services sector, which gained 71,200 jobs, and the administrative and support services and construction sectors which added 36,100 and 28,900 jobs respectively. Almost all sectors added jobs; the exceptions were government and finance and insurance, which posted annual decreases (-18,400 and -1,600 respectively). In terms of annual percentages, the state’s job growth ranked 17th among the 29 states with statistically significant employment changes in December 2013. California’s employment growth fell behind that of neighboring and similar-size states (except New York).
California’s employment growth rate tends to follow the national rate very closely. During the Great Recession California lost jobs at a higher rate than the U.S., but during much of the recovery California added jobs at a higher rate. These trends together indicate that we may be returning to the long-term trend.
California’s unemployment rate was 8.3% in December, down from the 8.5% rate registered in November. The state’s unemployment rate is lower now than it has been in about five years, and it is down 1.5 points from last year. But it is still 3.5 points higher than its pre-recession low. California’s jobless rate is the fifth highest in the nation.
California’s unemployment rate has been consistently above the national average since 1990. The gap between the nation’s and California’s unemployment rate widened significantly during the recession, but over the past year it began to narrow. California’s unemployment rate is currently 1.6 percentage points higher than the national rate of 6.7%.
In December 2013, unemployment rates ranged from a low of 4.2% in Marin County to a high of 22.5% in Imperial County. Three Bay Area counties—Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco—have unemployment rates below 5%.
Unemployment remains high in some parts of California—especially in the San Joaquin Valley and the Northern Sacramento Valley, where the unemployment rate averages 12.2%.