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California starts year with nearly 97,000 jobs added

Hiring heated up in the leisure and hospitality sector, with gains in the gambling, performing arts and spectator sports industries.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed a powerful picture of the job market in January — California led the nation in new jobs created. 

The Golden State added 96,700 new jobs in January, a gain that accounted for nearly 19% of the nation's 517,000 new jobs added. 

Eight of California’s major industry sectors saw hiring gains in January. The state also outpaced the nation in year-over-year job growth, adding 559,500 jobs. That’s an increase by 3.5%, outpacing the nation’s year-over-year growth rate of 3.3%.

The governor also reported the state’s unemployment rate rose by 0.1% to 4.2%, slightly higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 3.4%.

“California has added more than 3 million jobs since April 2020 — the biggest hiring spree in the nation,” the governor’s office reported.

Rates of new job creation compared to unemployment in California starting 2023. (California Employment Development Department)

The latest report from the California Employment Development Department released Friday concurred that California’s unemployment rate “crept up slightly” in January, according to data from two surveys. 

Among industries with strong job growth, the government educational services sector grew after the University of California academic workers strike ended in December. The leisure & hospitality industry also enjoyed an “extremely strong” month-over-month gain by adding more than 20,000 jobs “thanks, in part, to very good gains in not just gambling industries, but also in performing arts, spectator sports, and talent and sports agents,” the department reported. 

However, the construction industry suffered California’s largest month-over-month job loss for January 2023, by 7,300 jobs. The department blamed severe winter storms and extreme weather across the state, as well as reductions in the specialty trade contractors subsector. In February, the department opened financial unemployment assistance to workers in more than 10 counties impacted by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides. Workers are eligible to file for federal disaster unemployment assistance benefits.

Marin and San Benito counties saw the lowest unemployment rates at 3.1%, and Orange County's jobless rate stood at 3.4%. On the other side, Plumas County saw 10.1% unemployment followed by Imperial at 16.2% and Colusa at 17.5%. 

Nationally, the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits jumped by the most in five months at the end of February, the Labor Department said Thursday. But layoffs remain historically low as the labor market continues to be largely unaffected by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes.

Inflation remains more than double the Fed’s 2% target but the economy is growing and adding jobs at a healthy clip. Last month, the government reported that employers added a better-than-expected 517,000 jobs in January and that the unemployment rate dipped to 3.4%, the lowest level since 1969.

Friday’s jobs report showed the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs in February, far outpacing what analysts expected. Fed policymakers have forecast that the unemployment rate would rise to 4.6% by the end of this year, a sizable increase historically associated with recessions.

California's data for the month of February will be released March 24.

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