A lot of Americans keep track of the employment gains or losses for the whole country when the figures are released at the end of each month.

But California job growth doesn’t get as much attention.

In December, the state added 24,500 jobs.

It’s comparable to adding a young city in one month.

The largest growth was in leisure and hospitality.

Unemployment rose to 4.2% as more entered the workforce, now topping 17.28 million statewide.

Year-over-year, payrolls expanded by 284,300, an increase of 1.7%.

The unemployment rate in November was 4.1% and 25,700 jobs were added.

“Large numbers of Californians are finally coming off the sidelines to again look for work as the job market has continued to improve,” Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, said.

In the last quarter of 2018, the labor force expanded by 208,200, a sharp contrast to the 6,000 increase posted in the final quarter of 2017. The gains in the state were widespread, with nine of 11 broad industry sectors expanding last month.

The most jobs (9,500) were added in leisure and hospitality as California continues to retain its welcoming beauty – man-made and natural – for tourists and people yearning to live in our coastal state.

Los Angeles County, alone, hosted an estimated 40 million visitors in 2018, a 3.1% improvement over 2017’s total. It marked the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth. California has outpaced the nation’s economic growth,” noted Sung Won Sohn, president of SS Economics, a Los Angeles consultancy.

“The holiday shopping season was a barn-burner for retailers, both online and offline. The drop in the price of oil has boosted the purchasing power of consumers,” Sohn said.

But Sohn cautioned, “Aches and pains associated with the aging economic recovery process are beginning to show up.

In 2018, the Golden State produced 284,500 jobs compared to 366,000 the year before. Most likely the slowdown will continue into 2019. Labor shortages are the primary headwind, exacerbated by high cost of housing and doing business in California.”

The two sectors reporting job losses in December were construction (down 1,300) and “other services,” a grab bag category that includes machinery repair shops, dry cleaners and mortuaries, where employment was down 300.

On the bright side, a tight labor market is driving a rise in wages after years of stagnation.  U.S. pay rose 3.2% in December over a year earlier.

Los Angeles County payrolls expanded by a net 6,000 positions last month to 4.93 million, a 1.3% rise from December, 2017.

The government shutdown will cause some pain among federal workers in California, but it will not be comparable to the ghastly, no-pay situation in Washington D.C. and Eastern and Central states. 

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