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California unemployment rate improves to 8.5% in February

Employers gained 141,000 nonfarm payroll jobs

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

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percentage points to 8.5 percent in February as the state’s employers gained 141,000 jobs1, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. This comes after January’s downward-revised (-10,100 jobs) month-over loss of 80,000 jobs. December and January combined for a two-month total of 155,400 jobs lost, but February’s gain recovered nearly 91% of that loss. California has now regained nearly 39 percent of the 2,714,800 total nonfarm jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in February 2021, down from 9 percent in January 2021 but up from 4.3 percent from February 2020.
California payroll jobs totaled 15,998,900 in February 2021, up 141,000 from January 2021 but down from 1,662,000 from February 2020.

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

  • California’s month-over unemployment rate improved from 9.0 percent in January to 8.5 percent in February2 while at the same time month-over job gains (+141,000) recovered nearly all of December and January’s combined losses (-155,400).
  • Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Leisure & Hospitality (+102,200) had the state’s largest month-over increase thanks in large part to Full-Service Restaurants. Other Services (+14,100) and Educational & Health Services (+13,000) also had large gains thanks to strength in Personal Care Services and Ambulatory Health Care Services, respectively.
  • Government (-6,000) suffered the largest month-over job loss mainly being due to reductions in Federal Government jobs such as census and postal workers.
  • February’s month-over increase in farm jobs (+2,900) marks seven consecutive months of gains in that category.

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 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 15,998,900 in February – a net gain of 141,000 jobs from January. This followed a downward-revision of 10,100 jobs for a revised month-over loss of 80,000 jobs in January.
  • Year-over – Total nonfarm jobs decreased by 1,662,000 (a 9.4 percent decrease) from February 2020 to February 2021 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 9,475,000 jobs (a 6.2 percent decrease).
Major Industries Month-over Change (Jan. 2021–Feb. 2021) Year-over Change (Feb. 2020–Feb. 2021) Total Payroll Jobs as of Feb. 2021
Leisure and Hospitality +102,200 -698,300 1,359,900
Other Services +14,100 -140,900 452,400
Education and Health Services +13,000 -125,000 2,737,500
Manufacturing +8,900 -76,800 1,251,000
Trade, Transportation, Utilities +8,200 -106,100 2,960,900
Professional and Business Services +5,400 -156,200 2,615,100
Construction +600 -35,000 878,300
Mining and Logging -700 -4,000 18,300
Financial Activities -1,900 -41,700 807,100
Information -2,800 -61,700 519,400
Government -6,000 -216,300 2,399,000

Total Farm jobs – The number of jobs in the agriculture industry increased by 2,900 from January to 423,100 jobs in February. The agricultural industry had 2,300 more farm jobs in February 2021 than it did the February 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 with jobs in February was 17,334,300, an increase of 345,600 jobs from January’s total of 16,988,700, but down 1,253,500 from the employment total in February of last year.
  • Unemployed – The number of unemployed Californians was 1,610,200 in February, a decrease of 69,600 over the month, but up by 764,900 in comparison to February of last year.
California Labor Force Month-over Change (Jan. 2021–Feb. 2021) Year-over Change (Feb. 2020–Feb. 2021)
* Civilian Labor Force (18,944,500) +276,000 -488,500
Total Civilian Employment (17,334,300) +345,600 -1,253,500
Unemployment (1,610,200) -69,600 +764,900

* 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 794,348 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the February 2021 sample week. That compares to 818,589 people in January and 351,766 people in February 2020. Concurrently, 90,662 initial claims were processed in the February 2021 sample week, which was a month-over increase of 32,285 claims from January, as well as a year-over increase of 55,533 claims from February 2020.

California Unemployment Insurance Claims Month-over Change (Jan. 2021–Feb. 2021) Year-over Change (Feb. 2020–Feb. 2021)
UI Recipients (794,348) -24,241 +442,582
New UI Claims (90,662) +32,285 +55,533
MONTHLY LABOR FORCE DATA FOR COUNTIES
February 2021 (Preliminary); 2020 Benchmark
NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED
COUNTY LABOR FORCE EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
STATE TOTAL 19,022,800 17,423,300 1,599,500 8.4%
ALAMEDA 809,700 754,900 54,800 6.8%
ALPINE 630 590 50 7.3%
AMADOR 14,530 13,390 1,150 7.9%
BUTTE 92,400 85,300 7,100 7.7%
CALAVERAS 21,400 19,980 1,410 6.6%
COLUSA 10,560 8,890 1,680 15.9%
CONTRA COSTA 539,900 501,600 38,300 7.1%
DEL NORTE 9,330 8,530 800 8.6%
EL DORADO 91,800 85,700 6,000 6.6%
FRESNO 444,300 400,100 44,200 9.9%
GLENN 12,500 11,560 950 7.6%
HUMBOLDT 59,800 55,600 4,200 7.0%
IMPERIAL 66,200 55,700 10,500 15.9%
INYO 8,350 7,800 550 6.6%
KERN 380,700 339,700 41,100 10.8%
KINGS 55,400 49,400 5,900 10.7%
LAKE 29,120 26,710 2,410 8.3%
LASSEN 9,530 8,880 660 6.9%
LOS ANGELES 5,126,300 4,569,400 556,900 10.9%
MADERA 63,300 57,300 6,000 9.5%
MARIN 131,100 124,500 6,600 5.0%
MARIPOSA 6,720 6,040 680 10.1%
MENDOCINO 36,770 34,070 2,700 7.3%
MERCED 115,500 102,200 13,200 11.5%
MODOC 3,150 2,860 290 9.3%
MONO 8,430 7,760 670 7.9%
MONTEREY 205,500 183,000 22,500 10.9%
NAPA 68,700 63,800 4,900 7.1%
NEVADA 47,100 44,110 2,990 6.3%
ORANGE 1,546,300 1,441,800 104,500 6.8%
PLACER 187,000 176,400 10,600 5.7%
PLUMAS 7,190 6,320 870 12.2%
RIVERSIDE 1,122,300 1,032,200 90,100 8.0%
SACRAMENTO 715,300 660,500 54,900 7.7%
SAN BENITO 31,300 28,700 2,700 8.5%
SAN BERNARDINO 986,000 905,700 80,300 8.1%
SAN DIEGO 1,551,600 1,439,400 112,100 7.2%
SAN FRANCISCO 541,100 510,200 31,000 5.7%
SAN JOAQUIN 334,000 302,200 31,800 9.5%
SAN LUIS OBISPO 131,000 122,800 8,200 6.3%
SAN MATEO 425,000 402,500 22,500 5.3%
SANTA BARBARA 214,600 199,300 15,300 7.1%
SANTA CLARA 1,017,600 963,300 54,400 5.3%
SANTA CRUZ 130,400 119,400 10,900 8.4%
SHASTA 73,700 67,900 5,800 7.8%
SIERRA 1,300 1,200 100 7.5%
SISKIYOU 16,640 15,020 1,620 9.7%
SOLANO 203,500 187,000 16,600 8.1%
SONOMA 239,600 224,300 15,300 6.4%
STANISLAUS 241,200 219,500 21,700 9.0%
SUTTER 44,000 39,500 4,500 10.3%
TEHAMA 25,550 23,500 2,060 8.0%
TRINITY 4,450 4,110 340 7.6%
TULARE 197,800 175,300 22,500 11.4%
TUOLUMNE 19,910 18,180 1,730 8.7%
VENTURA 409,700 382,000 27,700 6.8%
YOLO 106,600 99,400 7,300 6.8%
YUBA 29,500 26,500 2,900 9.9%