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California unemployment rate improves to 7.9% in May 2021

Employers gained 104,500 nonfarm payroll jobs

IMPORTANT NOTE: The employment data for the month of May 2021 is taken from the survey week including May 12. Data for the month of June is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in May as the state’s employers gained 104,500 non-farm payroll jobs1, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. This comes after April’s upwards-revised (+200 jobs) month-over gain of 102,000 jobs and a downwards-revised (-59,400) unemployment month-over change of -62,600.

The California unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in May 2021, down from 8 percent in April 2021 and down from 15.6 percent from May 2021.
California payroll jobs totaled 16,352,900 in May 2021, up 104,500 from April 2021 and up from 15,132,700 from May 2020.

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

  • May’s unemployment rate2 is nearly half of the 16% peak rate in April 2020, but is still 3.6% higher than the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 4.3% in February 2020.
  • From February 2021 through May 2021, California added 495,000 total non-farm payroll jobs, marking the state’s fourth consecutive month of gains of more than 100,000 jobs.
  • Of the 2,714,800 jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, California has now regained 1,406,800 (51.8%), with a third of those jobs (468,000) coming from the hard-hit Leisure & Hospitality industry.
  • Nine of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in May. Leisure & Hospitality (+62,300) continued to have the state’s largest month-over increase thanks to large gains in Accommodations and Food Services & Drinking Places, as well as in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. Information’s large job increase (+11,200) was in large part due to gains in Motion Picture and Sound Recording industries.
  • Construction (-1,600) suffered the largest month-over job reduction due to losses in Non-Residential Building Construction and Building Foundation & Exterior Contractors.

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

Data Trends about Jobs in the Economy

Total Nonfarm Payroll Jobs

This 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 16,352,900 in May – a net gain of 104,500 jobs from April 2021. This followed an upward revision of 200 jobs for a revised month-over gain of 16,248,400 jobs in April.
  • Year-over – Total nonfarm jobs increased by 1,220,200 (an 8.1 percent increase) from May 2020 to May 2021 compared to the U.S. annual gain of 11,900,000 jobs (an 8.9 percent increase).
Major Industries Month-over Change (April 2021–May 2021) Year-over Change (May 2020–May 2021) Total Payroll Jobs as of May 2021
Leisure and Hospitality +62,300 +420,400 1,540,700
Education and Health Services +16,500 +161,100 2,779,000
Information +11,200 +30,700 538,500
Professional and Business Services +7,300 +163,600 2,669,700
Manufacturing +2,400 +28,900 1,256,100
Other Services +2,700 +58,600 469,300
Government +1,700 -30,000 2,402,800
Financial Activities +1,200 +10,100 811,900
Trade, Transportation, Utilities +1,100 +321,900 2,983,700
Mining and Logging -300 -300 18,700
Construction -1,600 +55,200 882,500

Total Farm jobs – The number of jobs in the agriculture industry decreased by 4,000 from April 2021 to 409,900 jobs in May. The agricultural industry had 5,100 fewer farm jobs in May 2021 than it did the May prior.

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 employed in May was 17,418,000, an increase of 39,500 jobs from April’s total of 17,378,500 and up 1,888,700 from the employment total in May of last year.
  • Unemployed – The number of unemployed Californians was 1,489,600 in May, a decrease of 27,100 over the month and down 1,373,600 in comparison to May of last year.
California Labor Force Month-over Change (April 2021–May 2021) Year-over Change (May 2020–May 2021)
* Civilian Labor Force (18,907,600) +12,400 +515,100
Total Civilian Employment (17,418,000) +39,500 +1,888,700
Unemployment (1,489,600) -27,100 -1,373,600

* 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 569,512 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the May 2021 sample week. That compares to 579,498 people in April and 2,154,692 people in May 2020. Concurrently, 71,259 initial claims were processed in the May 2021 sample week, which was a month-over decrease of 7,381 claims from April and a year-over decrease of 132,329 claims from May 2020.

California Unemployment Insurance Claims Month-over Change (April 2021–May 2021) Year-over Change (May 2020–May 2021)
UI Recipients (569,512) -9,986 -1,585,180
New UI Claims (71,259) -7,381 -132,329
MONTHLY LABOR FORCE DATA FOR COUNTIES
May 2021 (Preliminary); 2020 Benchmark
NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED
COUNTY LABOR FORCE EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
STATE TOTAL 18,949,700 17,523,600 1,426,100 7.5%
ALAMEDA 799,500 751,700 47,800 6.0%
ALPINE 460 420 40 8.8%
AMADOR 14,460 13,560 910 6.3%
BUTTE 92,000 85,900 6,100 6.6%
CALAVERAS 21,370 20,210 1,160 5.4%
COLUSA 11,040 9,800 1,240 11.2%
CONTRA COSTA 533,000 499,500 33,500 6.3%
DEL NORTE 9,250 8,560 690 7.4%
EL DORADO 90,000 85,000 5,000 5.6%
FRESNO 445,700 406,500 39,200 8.8%
GLENN 12,960 12,140 820 6.3%
HUMBOLDT 59,800 56,300 3,500 5.8%
IMPERIAL 66,700 56,100 10,600 15.9%
INYO 8,190 7,740 450 5.5%
KERN 378,900 340,800 38,200 10.1%
KINGS 56,300 51,200 5,200 9.2%
LAKE 29,380 27,340 2,040 6.9%
LASSEN 9,620 9,110 510 5.3%
LOS ANGELES 5,120,300 4,600,900 519,500 10.1%
MADERA 63,300 58,000 5,300 8.4%
MARIN 130,200 124,600 5,600 4.3%
MARIPOSA 7,210 6,690 510 7.1%
MENDOCINO 36,360 34,210 2,150 5.9%
MERCED 116,800 105,200 11,600 9.9%
MODOC 3,350 3,150 200 5.9%
MONO 7,270 6,750 530 7.2%
MONTEREY 221,600 205,400 16,200 7.3%
NAPA 71,400 67,400 4,000 5.5%
NEVADA 45,650 43,170 2,480 5.4%
ORANGE 1,555,000 1,463,800 91,200 5.9%
PLACER 184,000 174,900 9,100 4.9%
PLUMAS 7,830 7,240 590 7.5%
RIVERSIDE 1,106,700 1,027,200 79,500 7.2%
SACRAMENTO 703,000 655,100 47,900 6.8%
SAN BENITO 31,200 29,000 2,200 7.1%
SAN BERNARDINO 971,700 900,600 71,100 7.3%
SAN DIEGO 1,519,300 1,422,200 97,200 6.4%
SAN FRANCISCO 544,000 516,300 27,700 5.1%
SAN JOAQUIN 334,300 306,400 27,900 8.3%
SAN LUIS OBISPO 129,400 122,700 6,700 5.2%
SAN MATEO 426,700 407,100 19,600 4.6%
SANTA BARBARA 219,600 207,700 11,900 5.4%
SANTA CLARA 1,010,300 963,100 47,200 4.7%
SANTA CRUZ 132,000 123,000 9,000 6.8%
SHASTA 73,200 68,600 4,700 6.4%
SIERRA 1,330 1,270 60 4.8%
SISKIYOU 16,860 15,670 1,190 7.0%
SOLANO 199,800 185,500 14,300 7.2%
SONOMA 242,500 229,700 12,800 5.3%
STANISLAUS 240,300 221,000 19,300 8.0%
SUTTER 45,500 41,600 3,900 8.6%
TEHAMA 25,330 23,590 1,740 6.9%
TRINITY 4,590 4,330 260 5.6%
TULARE 201,200 180,600 20,600 10.2%
TUOLUMNE 19,740 18,380 1,360 6.9%
VENTURA 406,800 383,000 23,800 5.8%
YOLO 105,700 99,800 5,900 5.6%
YUBA 29,700 27,200 2,500 8.3%