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California unemployment rate rose to record 15.5 percent in April

Employers lost an unprecedented 2,344,700 nonfarm jobs

IMPORTANT NOTE: The employment data for the month of April 2020 is taken from the survey week including April 12. Data for the survey week including May 12 is scheduled for release on June 19.

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate rose to a record high 15.5 percent in April as the state’s employers lost 2,344,700 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. The unprecedented job losses are like nothing before seen in California history in a current data series that dates back to 1976, and are a direct result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California unemployment rate was 15.5 percent in April 2020, up from 5.5 percent in March 2020.
California payroll jobs totaled 15,049,300 in April 2020, down 2,344,700 from March 2020 and down 2,324,000 from April of last year.

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

  • The state’s unemployment rate spiked an unprecedented 10 percent in April to 15.5 percent1, eclipsing the previous record high rate in the current data series of 12.3 percent at the height of the Great Recession (March, October, and November of 2010).
  • California’s month-over non-farm payroll job loss of 2,344,7002 for April is the largest on record. And in just one month, that total is over one million more than the job loss during the 2 ½ year long recession (-1,318,400 from July 2007 - February 2010).
  • The number of unemployed Californians rose to almost 2.9 million over just two months, surpassing the previous 2.2 million peak during the recession that took more than two years to reach.
  • Every one of California’s 11 industry sectors lost jobs in April. The Leisure & Hospitality industry posted the largest job loss (-866,200), which was more than double that of Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (-388,700), the state’s second-largest industry sector loss. Mining & Logging (-500) posted the smallest job loss.

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 15,049,300 in April – a net loss of 2,344,700 jobs from March. This followed a revised loss of 210,500 jobs in March.
  • Year-over – Total nonfarm jobs decreased by 2,324,000 jobs (a 13.4 percent decrease) from April 2019 to April 2020 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 19,420,000 jobs (a 12.9 percent decrease).
Major Industries Month-over Change (March 2020–April 2020) Year-over Change (March 2019–April 2020) Total Payroll Jobs as of April 2020
Leisure and Hospitality -866,200 -934,700 1,094,200
Trade, Transportation, Utilities -388,700 -380,700 2,666,300
Education and Health Services -280,400 -238,600 2,548,100
Professional and Business Services -242,800 -237,400 2,476,100
Other Services -142,500 -162,900 411,100
Construction -132,100 -133,100 746,400
Manufacturing -118,700 -142,100 1,185,000
Government -101,000 -68,700 2,532,500
Information -40,500 -8,900 545,800
Financial Activities -31,300 -16,500 821,600
Mining and Logging -500 -400 22,200

Total Farm jobs – The number of jobs in the agriculture industry decreased by 94,500 jobs from March to 322,500. The agricultural industry has lost 94,300 farm jobs since April 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 April was 15,682,900, a decrease of 2,432,900 from March and down 2,852,700 from the employment total in April of last year.
  • Unemployed – The number of unemployed Californians was 2,885,300 in April, an increase of 1,833,100 over the month and up by 2,078,800 compared with April of last year.
California Labor Force Month-over Change (March 2020–April 2020) Year-over Change (April 2019–April 2020)
* Civilian Labor Force (18,658,200) -599,800 -733,900
Total Civilian Employment (15,682,900) -2,432,900 -2,852,700
Unemployment (2,885,300) +1,833,100 +2,078,800

* 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 1,889,250 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the April 2020 sample week. This is a sample week that includes the 19th of each month. That compares to 424,645 people in the sample week of March 2020 and 364,431 people in the sample week of April 2019. Concurrently, 325,516 initial claims were processed in the April 2020 sample week, which was a month-over increase of 139,037 claims from March 2020 and a year-over increase of 281,485 claims from April 2019.

California Unemployment Insurance Claims Month-over Change (March 2020–April 2020) Year-over Change (April 2019–April 2020)
UI Recipients (1,889,250) +1,464,605 +1,524,819
New UI Claims (325,516) +139,037 +281,485
MONTHLY LABOR FORCE DATA FOR COUNTIES
April 2020 (Preliminary); 2019 Benchmark
NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED
COUNTY LABOR FORCE EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
STATE TOTAL 18,519,400 15,530,200 2,989,200 16.1%
ALAMEDA 800,300 687,800 112,500 14.1%
ALPINE 480 380 110 22.1%
AMADOR 14,390 12,340 2,050 14.3%
BUTTE 98,300 83,700 14,600 14.9%
CALAVERAS 20,560 17,830 2,730 13.3%
COLUSA 11,230 8,270 2,960 26.3%
CONTRA COSTA 534,100 456,500 77,600 14.5%
DEL NORTE 9,480 8,240 1,240 13.1%
EL DORADO 88,100 74,600 13,500 15.4%
FRESNO 457,600 381,100 76,500 16.7%
GLENN 11,300 9,470 1,830 16.2%
HUMBOLDT 62,800 54,200 8,600 13.7%
IMPERIAL 71,500 51,400 20,000 28.0%
INYO 8,160 7,040 1,120 13.7%
KERN 375,800 306,000 69,800 18.6%
KINGS 58,300 48,400 9,800 16.8%
LAKE 28,320 24,000 4,310 15.2%
LASSEN 8,940 7,900 1,040 11.6%
LOS ANGELES 4,759,800 3,791,400 968,400 20.3%
MADERA 63,100 52,600 10,500 16.6%
MARIN 128,800 114,500 14,300 11.1%
MARIPOSA 7,810 6,410 1,390 17.8%
MENDOCINO 37,250 31,720 5,520 14.8%
MERCED 116,300 94,500 21,800 18.8%
MODOC 3,040 2,610 440 14.3%
MONO 8,170 6,360 1,810 22.1%
MONTEREY 207,400 165,600 41,800 20.2%
NAPA 72,700 61,200 11,500 15.9%
NEVADA 45,090 38,550 6,530 14.5%
ORANGE 1,529,600 1,317,800 211,800 13.8%
PLACER 176,600 153,200 23,400 13.3%
PLUMAS 6,890 5,480 1,410 20.5%
RIVERSIDE 1,100,100 931,300 168,800 15.3%
SACRAMENTO 677,100 577,700 99,300 14.7%
SAN BENITO 30,800 24,700 6,100 19.8%
SAN BERNARDINO 947,400 820,700 126,700 13.4%
SAN DIEGO 1,543,400 1,312,100 231,300 15.0%
SAN FRANCISCO 551,400 482,100 69,400 12.6%
SAN JOAQUIN 317,200 259,100 58,000 18.3%
SAN LUIS OBISPO 135,100 116,500 18,600 13.7%
SAN MATEO 429,500 380,600 48,900 11.4%
SANTA BARBARA 215,400 185,900 29,500 13.7%
SANTA CLARA 1,013,300 894,500 118,800 11.7%
SANTA CRUZ 132,800 109,700 23,100 17.4%
SHASTA 70,600 59,400 11,200 15.9%
SIERRA 1,230 1,060 180 14.2%
SISKIYOU 16,580 13,960 2,630 15.8%
SOLANO 203,000 172,700 30,300 14.9%
SONOMA 235,800 199,800 35,900 15.2%
STANISLAUS 239,400 198,600 40,800 17.0%
SUTTER 46,100 37,800 8,300 17.9%
TEHAMA 25,240 21,580 3,660 14.5%
TRINITY 4,350 3,790 560 12.8%
TULARE 200,700 162,600 38,100 19.0%
TUOLUMNE 21,840 18,090 3,750 17.2%
VENTURA 409,300 351,900 57,400 14.0%
YOLO 99,400 87,500 11,900 11.9%
YUBA 30,300 25,500 4,800 15.8%