California employment back to 2009

July 9, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

California’s current employment rate is about at the same as in 2009, a year after the bank panic and mortgage meltdown of 2008.

While California’s unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 12.3 percent in 2010, it has steadily declined to 10.8 percent as of May 2012.

But the more important employment ratio has only recovered to the same level as 2009.

Population and Employment Change in California, 2008 to 2012 

Year Population Population Increase Employment Employment Increase Employment Ratio Unemployment Rate
2012 37,678,563 250,617 16,500,502 332,726 43.8 10.8
2011 37,427,946 173,990 16,167,776 101,542 43.2 11.9
2010 37,253,956 194,721 16,066,234 132,724 43.1 12.3
2009 37,059,235 302,569 16,198,958 492,704 43.7 11.2
2008 36,756,666 N/A 16,691,662 N/A 46.1 6.6

(Source: California Employment Development Department)

According to Dr. Keith Hall, economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, the employment-to-population ratio is the most accurate indicator of labor market health.  This is because the employment ratio takes into consideration population growth.

According to official data from the California Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate has dropped from 12.3 percent in 2010 to 10.8 percent in May 2012.  California population has grown by an average of 0.6 percent per year since 2008, but employment has grown by an average of only 0.3 percent per year over the same time period.

Job growth has not been great enough to support California’s growing population even at an anemic forecasted population growth rate of 1 percent.

California has about 12 percent of the U.S. population.  Using data from Hall, California’s working age population grows by an average of 259,600 per year.  California would need to gain 360,000 jobs per year for years to eventually catch up.  This would be like adding jobs for the entire population of Pleasant Hill in Northern California or Santa Paula in Southern California each year.

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