Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Newsom’s Upbeat Job Picture vs. Reality
By admin
Published 2 years ago on
March 29, 2022

Share

 

A little ritual plays itself out each month after federal and state governments release the latest data about employment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom hails the latest job numbers as proof that California’s economy has been, to use one of his many buzzword slogans, “roaring back” from the recession that befell the state in 2020 as he closed down many businesses in response to COVID-19.

Elevated Unemployment Rate

After Newsom’s rosy portrayal, independent economists and news organizations place the data in context, which is that California’s economic recovery has been modest in comparison to the nation and other states.

Dan Walters

CalMatters

Opinion

This month’s version began last Friday when the state Employment Development Department reported that in February, California’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%.

On cue, Newsom’s press office crowed that “California created 20.4% of the nation’s jobs in February while decreasing the unemployment rate.”

“These latest numbers show that California is continuing to drive our nation’s job growth,” Newsom said. “We’re doing it by promoting more pathways to opportunity and embracing the diversity, creativity, innovation, and determination that breeds success — building a California for all.”

Beacon Economics and the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development quickly noted in an analysis that “While California added jobs at a healthy pace in 2021, as of February 2022, the state has still only recovered 87.2% of the jobs that were lost in March and April 2020, and there are currently 353,000 fewer people employed in California compared to pre-pandemic February 2020.”

State Still Facing Labor Supply Shortages

“California’s unemployment rate remains elevated relative to the 3.8% rate in the United States overall as the state continues to struggle with its labor supply,” the analysis continued. “Since February 2020, the state’s workforce has fallen by 455,000 workers, a 2.3% decline.”

Not only was California’s jobless rate markedly higher than the nation’s in February, but it was the second highest of any state, slightly lower than New Mexico’s 5.6%. That continued a two-year pattern of California’s unemployment rate consistently being at or near the nation’s highest.

Since Newsom issued his shutdown orders exactly two years ago this month, it’s instructive to compare February 2022’s employment and unemployment data with what they were in February 2020.

In that month, California’s jobless rate was a record low 3.9%. The state had a labor force of 19.5 million, almost exactly half of its population, and 18.7 million of them had jobs, with just 759,100 unemployed. The recession that struck just weeks later quickly erased more than 2.5 million jobs and sent its unemployment rate soaring to 16.4%.

In February of this year, the labor force was 19.1 million — a whopping half-million fewer — with 18 million Californians employed and a million still unemployed.

High Poverty, High Cost of Living

Adding those who have dropped out of the labor force to those officially unemployed gives us a more complete picture, and it’s not a pretty one. It explains why, despite the state’s relatively high unemployment rate, employers are having great difficulty finding enough workers, both skilled and unskilled. Throughout the state, fast-food businesses are offering wages higher than the state minimum of $15 an hour but can’t get enough workers.

The state’s economy is improving, albeit not roaring back as Newsom would have us believe. But whether recovery continues depends largely on whether the shortage of workers is just a temporary condition or a permanent drag.

Finally, we should always remind ourselves that job numbers are just one measure of economic health, and our highest-in-the-nation poverty rate, driven by our extremely high cost of living, is a much more worrisome indicator of whether we’ll have a “California for all.”

About the Author

Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. For more columns by Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

DON'T MISS

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

DON'T MISS

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

DON'T MISS

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

DON'T MISS

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

DON'T MISS

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

DON'T MISS

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

DON'T MISS

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

DON'T MISS

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

UP NEXT

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

UP NEXT

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

UP NEXT

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

UP NEXT

While California Politicians Skirmish Over Housing, the Shortage Keeps Growing

UP NEXT

As PG&E Bills Skyrocket, Will California Lawmakers Hold Anyone Accountable?

UP NEXT

Trustees Owe a Nationwide Superintendent Search to Fresno’s Children

UP NEXT

Taxes Are on the November Ballot in Monumental CA Showdown

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

4 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

4 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

5 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

6 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

6 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

8 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

9 hours ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

9 hours ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

9 hours ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

9 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

Fresno got a $10.9 million piece of California grant money to shelter people living in encampments. The money from California’s $192 m...

2 hours ago

2 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

3 hours ago

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

3 hours ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

Crypto the WonderDog Show
4 hours ago

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

4 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

5 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

6 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

6 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend