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California unemployment lowers slightly to 16.3 percent in May

Employers added 141,600 nonfarm jobs after April’s historic job losses

IMPORTANT NOTE: The employment data for the month of May 2020 is taken from the survey week including May 12. Data for the survey week including June 12 is scheduled for release on July 17.

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate experienced a minimal drop to 16.3 percent in May as the state’s employers added 141,600 jobs, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. This comes after rapidly-evolving data prompted a statistical revision to a larger than initially estimated April job loss of 2,415,000 and an upward-revised unemployment rate of 16.4 percent. April’s revisions reflect unprecedented job losses never before seen in California’s history in a current data series that dates back to 1976 that are a direct result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California unemployment rate was 16.3 percent in May 2020, a slight decrease from the previous month by 0.1%.
California payroll jobs totaled 15,120,600 in May 2020, up 242,600 from April 2020 and down 2,267,100 from May of last year.

California’s Labor Market, by the Numbers...

  • While the state’s unemployment rate of 16.31 percent is slightly lower than the record high set in April 2020, it is still far higher than the 12.3 percent it was at during the height of the Great Recession (March, October, and November 2010).
  • April’s revised loss of 2.4 million jobs2 in California since March is the biggest month-over job loss in state history, far eclipsing the Great Recession’s then record-setting, month-over loss of 132,800 jobs between December 2008 and January 2009.
  • Nine of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in May. Construction posted the largest job gain (+75,000) thanks to strength in specialty trade contractors and ongoing construction projects. Leisure and hospitality (+64,800) had the second largest job gain due to growth in accommodation and food services. Government (-95,800) had the largest drop with state and local government jobs both experiencing large decreases over the month.

1. The unemployment rate comes from a federal survey of 5,100 California households.
2. The nonfarm payroll job numbers come from a separate federal survey of 80,000 California businesses.

Data trends about Jobs in the Economy

Total Nonfarm Payroll Jobs

This information comes from a monthly survey of approximately 80,000 California businesses that estimates jobs in the economy – seasonally adjusted.

  • Month-over – Total nonfarm jobs in California’s 11 major industries totaled 15,120,600 in May – a net gain of 141,600 jobs from April. This followed a revised loss of 2,415,000 jobs in April.
  • Year-over – Total nonfarm jobs decreased by 2,267,100 jobs (a 13.0 percent decrease) from May 2019 to May 2020 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 17,665,000 jobs (an 11.7 percent decrease).
Major Industries Month-over Change (April 2020–May 2020) Year-over Change (May 2019–May 2020) Total Payroll Jobs as of May 2020
Construction +75,000 -61,300 821,900
Leisure and Hospitality +64,800 -891,500 1,137,700
Education and Health Services +44,700 -223,100 2,570,600
Professional and Business Services +23,500 -208,400 2,507,100
Manufacturing +17,100 -126,700 1,199,000
Trade, Transportation, Utilities +12,800 -376,100 2,672,200
Other Services +4,500 -162,000 413,100
Mining and Logging +1,100 +200 22,800
Financial Activities +200 -11,100 827,000
Information -6,300 -52,100 503,200
Government -95,800 -155,000 2,446,000

Total Farm jobs – The number of jobs in the agriculture industry decreased by 18,000 jobs from April to 325,600. The agricultural industry has lost 94,500 farm jobs since May 2019.

Data trends about Workers in the Economy

Employment and Unemployment in California

This information is based on a monthly federal survey of 5,100 California households which focuses on workers in the economy.

  • Employed – The number of Californians holding jobs in May was 15,479,000, a decrease of 60,000 from April and down 3,066,000 from the employment total in May of last year.
  • Unemployed – The number of unemployed Californians was 3,018,000 in May, a decrease of 25,000 over the month, but up by 2,225,000 compared with May of last year. May’s number is nearly 300 percent higher than February 2020 (759,300).
California Labor Force Month-over Change (April 2020–May 2020) Year-over Change (May 2019–May 2020)
* Civilian Labor Force (18,497,000) -86,000 -841,000
Total Civilian Employment (15,479,000) -60,000 -3,066,000
Unemployment (3,018,000) -25,000 +2,225,000

* Labor force by place of residence, including workers involved in trade disputes.

Unemployment Insurance Claims (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The following data is from a sample week that includes the 19th of each month: In related data that figures into the state’s unemployment rate, there were 2,154,692 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the May 2020 sample week. This is a sample week that includes the 19th of each month. That compares to 1,889,250 people in April 2020 and 321,372 people in May 2019. Concurrently, 203,588 initial claims were processed in the May 2020 sample week, which was a month-over decrease of 121,928 claims from April 2020, but a year-over increase of 165,192 claims from May 2019.

California Unemployment Insurance Claims Month-over Change (April 2020–May 2020) Year-over Change (May 2019–May 2020)
UI Recipients (2,154,692) +265,442 +1,833,320
New UI Claims (203,588) -121,928 +165,192
MONTHLY LABOR FORCE DATA FOR COUNTIES
May 2020 (Preliminary); 2019 Benchmark
NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED
COUNTY LABOR FORCE EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
STATE TOTAL 18,405,800 15,484,600 2,921,200 15.9%
ALAMEDA 801,700 693,700 108,000 13.5%
ALPINE 480 380 110 22.2%
AMADOR 14,030 11,910 2,120 15.1%
BUTTE 90,400 78,200 12,200 13.5%
CALAVERAS 19,970 17,580 2,390 12.0%
COLUSA 10,220 8,060 2,160 21.1%
CONTRA COSTA 532,900 460,400 72,500 13.6%
DEL NORTE 9,170 7,980 1,190 13.0%
EL DORADO 90,600 77,000 13,600 15.0%
FRESNO 445,000 375,300 69,700 15.7%
GLENN 11,060 9,550 1,510 13.7%
HUMBOLDT 60,700 53,600 7,200 11.8%
IMPERIAL 71,700 51,700 19,900 27.8%
INYO 7,910 6,950 970 12.2%
KERN 368,400 301,100 67,300 18.3%
KINGS 56,200 47,200 9,000 16.0%
LAKE 25,420 21,510 3,910 15.4%
LASSEN 8,870 7,980 890 10.0%
LOS ANGELES 4,707,700 3,737,600 970,100 20.6%
MADERA 62,200 52,800 9,500 15.2%
MARIN 127,000 113,900 13,100 10.3%
MARIPOSA 7,740 6,380 1,360 17.5%
MENDOCINO 36,330 31,530 4,810 13.2%
MERCED 113,800 95,000 18,800 16.5%
MODOC 3,020 2,680 330 11.0%
MONO 6,300 4,480 1,820 28.9%
MONTEREY 198,100 164,700 33,300 16.8%
NAPA 72,100 61,800 10,400 14.4%
NEVADA 39,560 33,940 5,620 14.2%
ORANGE 1,548,900 1,324,500 224,500 14.5%
PLACER 180,600 158,200 22,400 12.4%
PLUMAS 6,400 5,320 1,080 16.9%
RIVERSIDE 1,089,100 917,200 171,900 15.8%
SACRAMENTO 695,100 596,900 98,300 14.1%
SAN BENITO 31,000 26,200 4,800 15.5%
SAN BERNARDINO 937,200 807,100 130,100 13.9%
SAN DIEGO 1,552,400 1,319,500 232,900 15.0%
SAN FRANCISCO 550,900 481,500 69,400 12.6%
SAN JOAQUIN 320,800 267,500 53,300 16.6%
SAN LUIS OBISPO 129,100 112,700 16,400 12.7%
SAN MATEO 427,400 380,200 47,200 11.1%
SANTA BARBARA 208,600 181,600 26,900 12.9%
SANTA CLARA 1,010,000 898,600 111,500 11.0%
SANTA CRUZ 130,300 111,600 18,800 14.4%
SHASTA 70,300 61,100 9,200 13.1%
SIERRA 1,140 1,000 140 12.6%
SISKIYOU 15,810 13,680 2,130 13.5%
SOLANO 199,800 171,300 28,400 14.2%
SONOMA 246,700 215,200 31,400 12.7%
STANISLAUS 233,300 195,700 37,500 16.1%
SUTTER 43,800 36,800 7,000 16.0%
TEHAMA 24,370 21,290 3,080 12.6%
TRINITY 4,280 3,820 460 10.7%
TULARE 191,900 156,600 35,300 18.4%
TUOLUMNE 20,790 17,360 3,430 16.5%
VENTURA 406,800 351,800 55,000 13.5%
YOLO 101,500 90,800 10,700 10.5%
YUBA 29,000 24,700 4,400 15.1%