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    California suffers largest job-growth drop in US
    • January 23, 2024

    ”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

    Buzz: California’s job growth was essentially cut in half by the coronavirus and the state’s reaction to the pandemic.

    Source: My trusty spreadsheet looked at employment stats for the state and 29 regional job markets from the Employment Development Dept. and the Bureau of Labor Statistics – focusing on before and after 2019, the year before the pandemic hit. Essentially, this math asks, “What if COVID-19 never happened?” by assuming job creation continued the last four years along its 2015-19 pace.


    Yes, California added 640,300 jobs in the four years through 2023. So all the job losses from the coronavirus business limitations have been refilled, and then some.

    But this job growth is 743,000 short of the 1.38 million workers added in pre-pandemic 2015-19.

    California’s job-creation shortfall ranks as the largest among the states, as the Golden State fell from No. 1 for new jobs in 2015-19 to No. 3 in 2019-23.

    And this hiring slowdown equals a 54% cut in job creation between these two, four-year periods.


    The drop in hiring was widespread across the state, as shrinking employment growth was found in 25 of the 29 job markets tracked.

    Look at the chill in the state’s largest job markets …

    Los Angeles County: 195,500 slower job growth – 79,000 hires in 2019-23 vs. 274,500 added staff for 2015-19. That’s a 71% cooling vs. the pre-pandemic pace.

    San Francisco: 113,800 short – 26,300 past four years vs. 140,100 for 2015-19. That’s off 81%.

    Orange County: 88,900 short – 39,000 past four years vs. 127,900 for 2015-19. That’s off 70%.

    Oakland-Berkeley: 81,300 short – 11,400 past four years vs. 92,800 for 2015-19. That’s off 88%.

    Inland Empire: 70,500 short – 128,400 past four years vs. 198,900 for 2015-19. That’s off 35%.

    San Jose-Santa Clara: 63,600 short – 36,500 past four years vs. 100,100 for 2015-19. That’s off 64%.

    San Diego County: 48,300 short – 69,900 past four years vs. 118,200 for 2015-19. That’s off 41%.

    Sacramento: 36,900 short – 67,600 past four years vs. 104,500 for 2015-19. That’s off 35%.

    By the way, job creation improved in five smaller markets in the last four years. Visalia-Porterville jobs expanded by 2,800; Bakersfield was up 2,600, Stockton was 1,800 ahead, El Centro hiring grew by 700 and Yuba City was up 300.


    California’s job market was a prime example of collateral damage from the state’s battle to halt the spread of coronavirus.

    The hiring scene also suffered from a lack of job candidates due to various factors, including a slow but steady decline in population.

    Please note that this job-creation shortfall isn’t a California-only quirk.

    In the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, 4.6 million jobs were added in the past four years, vs. 7.7 million in 2015-19. That 3.1 million hiring shortfall equals a 40% dip in job creation.

    Still, between those four-year periods, 10 states saw improvements in their hiring pace: Texas added 191,900 more workers in 2019-23 vs. 2015-19 followed by Montana (11,200), North Dakota (10,300), South Dakota (9,400), Arkansas (8,100), Wyoming (8,000), Kentucky (5,800), Alaska (5,500), Idaho (4,300), and Kansas (700).

    Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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