In March 2014, California employment grew at an annual rate of 2.2%, 0.5 percentage points higher than the rate at which employment grew in the nation as a whole. California added 325,100 jobs over the year, the largest over-the-year job increase in the country. The biggest gains occurred in the health care and social assistance sector, which added 60,700 jobs, as well as the professional, scientific, and technical services and administration and support services sectors, each of which added 40,000 jobs. Almost all sectors added jobs; the exceptions were finance and insurance and manufacturing, which posted annual decreases (-5,200 and -1,700 jobs, respectively). In terms of annual percentages, the state’s job growth ranked 8th among the 26 states with statistically significant employment changes in March 2014.
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 the state added jobs at a higher rate.
California’s unemployment rate was 8.1% in March 2014, unchanged from February. The state’s unemployment rate is lower now than it has been in about five years, and it is down 1.1 points from last year. But it is still 3.3 points higher than its pre-recession low. California’s jobless rate is the fourth 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 1.4 percentage points higher than the national rate of 6.7%.
In March 2014, unemployment rates ranged from a low of 4.7% in Marin County to a high of 24.5% in Colusa County. Three Bay Area counties—Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco— together with Orange County have unemployment rates below 6%.
Unemployment remains high in some parts of California—especially in the San Joaquin Valley and the Northern Sacramento Valley, where the unemployment rates average 14.1% and 14.0%, respectively.