A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

California has Recovered all Jobs Lost During the Pandemic

And it did so with fewer workers
By Victoria Pike Bond |
56,700 Jobs Added

California’s labor market expanded nicely in October (the latest numbers), according to an analysis released jointly with Beacon Economics. Total nonfarm employment in the state grew by 56,700 positions during the month, and with these gains, California has now fully recovered from the large job losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“October 2022 marks a significant milestone for California with employment in the state reaching  full recovery from the pandemic driven losses.” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics and the Center for Economic Forecasting. “This feat is particularly impressive since the state’s labor force has about one-quarter of a million fewer workers than it did prior to the crisis. The lowest unemployment rate on record has helped to offset the contraction in the state’s labor force.”

September’s gains were revised down to 5,300 in the latest numbers, a 1,200 decrease from the preliminary estimate of 6,500.

30,800 More People Employed

After underperforming the national labor market in 2020, a condition driven by labor shortages, California’s healthy job gains in 2021 and 2022 mean there are now 30,800 more people employed in the state compared to February 2020, the time of the pre-pandemic peak. While total nonfarm employment in the state has grown 0.2% since the pandemic lows, compared to a 0.5% increase nationally, California’s economy is rapidly catching up to the national trend. California increased payrolls by 4.1% from October 2021 to October 2022, outpacing the 3.6% increase in the United States over the same period.

4.0% Unemployment Rate

California’s unemployment rate grew to 4.0% in October, a 0.2 percentage-point increase from the previous month. This matched the increase in the national economy during the month. The state’s 3.8% unemployment rate in September was the lowest rate on record, and the present figure remains near historic lows. California continues to struggle with its labor supply, which fell by 5,100 in the latest numbers. Since February 2020, the state’s labor force has fallen by 256,900 workers, a 1.3% decline.