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California unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in March

Employers lost 99,500 nonfarm jobs as record decade-long job expansion ends

IMPORTANT NOTE: This news release reflects employment data for the month of March 2020, taken from the survey week including March 12th, and partially predates the current economic impact created by COVID-19. Data for the survey week including April 12th is scheduled for release on May 22nd.

SACRAMENTO – California’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.3 percent in March as the state’s employers lost 99,500 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two surveys. The job losses in March ended a record job expansion in California of 120 months, which surpassed the long expansion of the 1960s. In the recent expansion, California had gained 3,417,700 jobs, which accounted for 15.0 percent of the nation’s 22,789,000 job gain over the same timeframe.

The California unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in March 2020, up from February 2020’s rate of 3.9 percent.

California payroll jobs totaled 17,505,000 in March 2020, down 99,500 from February 2020, but up 150,400 from March of last year.

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

  • California’s unemployment rate rose by 1.4 percentage points in March to 5.3 percent1 which was the state’s largest unemployment rate increase on record in a data series going back to 1976.
  • Despite the large month-over job loss, California employers still show a year-over job gain of 150,400 non-farm payroll jobs for March.
  • March’s record 99,500 nonfarm payroll jobs2 loss was the fourth-largest on record, and driven by declines in six of California’s 11 industry sectors. Leisure & Hospitality (-67,200) posted the biggest jobs loss due in large part to drops in Full Service Restaurants as well as Food Services and Drinking Places. Other Services (-15,500) and Construction (-11,600) also experienced significant losses.
  • Government’s large job gain (5,200) was mostly due to a rise in local government employment. Federal government employment also helped with larger-than-normal increases, boosted by growth in employment for the U.S. Census.
    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 (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 17,505,000 in March – a net loss of 99,500 jobs from February. This followed a revised gain of 21,000 jobs in February.
  • Year-over – Total nonfarm jobs increased by 150,400 jobs (a 0.9 percent increase) from March 2019 to March 2020 compared to the U.S. annual gain of 1,504,000 jobs (a 1.0 percent increase).
This table shows the number of California nonfarm payroll jobs grouped by major industries, with columns showing month-over and year-over change, plus total payroll jobs as of March 2020. If you need an alternative format to access this information, contact the EDD Equal Employment Opportunity Office at EEOmail@edd.ca.gov or call toll free 1-866-490-8879.

Total Farm jobs – The number of jobs in the agriculture industry increased by 1,100 jobs from February to 432,200. The agricultural industry has added 11,100 farm jobs since March 2019.

Data trends about Workers in the Economy

Employment and Unemployment in California (Based on monthly federal survey of 5,100 California households which focuses on workers in the economy)

  • Employed – The number of Californians holding jobs in March was 18,244,100, a decrease of 512,600 from February and down 293,700 from the employment total in March of last year.
  • Unemployed – The number of unemployed Californians was 1,020,100 in March, an increase of 260,800 over the month and up by 201,200 compared with March of last year.
This table summarizes data from the prior text and adds that the civilian labor force (which is the labor force by place of residence, including workers involved in trading disputes) totaling 19,264,200 in March 2020, down 251,800 from February 2020, and down 92,600 from March of last year.

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 424,645 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the March 2020 sample week. This is a sample week that includes the 19th of each month. That compares to 372,379 people in February 2020 and 387,767 people in March 2019. Concurrently, 186,479 initial claims were processed in the March 2020 sample week which was a month-over increase of 144,652 claims from the February 2020 data and 146,514 claims from the March 2019 data.

In March 2020, there were 424,645 people receiving unemployment insurance benefits, up 52,266 from February 2020 and op 36,878 from March of last year. There were 186,479 people who filed new claims, up 144,652 from February and up 146,514 from March of last year.
MONTHLY LABOR FORCE DATA FOR COUNTIES
March 2020 (Preliminary); 2019 Benchmark
NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED
COUNTY LABOR FORCE EMPLOYMENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
ALAMEDA 833,500 801,500 31,900 3.8%
ALPINE 530 490 40 7.1%
AMADOR 14,850 14,050 800 5.4%
BUTTE 98,800 92,200 6,700 6.7%
CALAVERAS 21,530 20,380 1,160 5.4%
COLUSA 11,500 8,930 2,570 22.4%
CONTRA COSTA 554,200 532,000 22,200 4.0%
DEL NORTE 9,730 8,990 740 7.6%
EL DORADO 91,600 87,300 4,300 4.7%
FRESNO 457,400 407,900 49,600 10.8%
GLENN 13,290 12,140 1,150 8.7%
HUMBOLDT 61,900 58,900 3,000 4.9%
IMPERIAL 73,200 58,200 15,000 20.5%
INYO 8,630 8,210 410 4.8%
KERN 392,400 345,500 46,900 12.0%
KINGS 58,900 51,700 7,200 12.3%
LAKE 29,260 27,210 2,060 7.0%
LASSEN 9,760 9,060 700 7.2%
LOS ANGELES 5,004,400 4,683,900 320,500 6.4%
MADERA 63,200 56,500 6,700 10.5%
MARIN 137,700 133,500 4,200 3.0%
MARIPOSA 7,310 6,750 560 7.6%
MENDOCINO 38,560 36,310 2,260 5.9%
MERCED 117,600 102,500 15,100 12.9%
MODOC 3,130 2,770 360 11.5%
MONO 8,730 8,300 430 4.9%
MONTEREY 220,800 194,700 26,200 11.8%
NAPA 73,200 70,300 2,900 4.0%
NEVADA 48,120 45,890 2,230 4.6%
ORANGE 1,602,900 1,545,200 57,800 3.6%
PLACER 186,900 179,300 7,500 4.0%
PLUMAS 7,660 6,650 1,010 13.2%
RIVERSIDE 1,098,900 1,041,000 57,900 5.3%
SACRAMENTO 709,800 676,100 33,600 4.7%
SAN BENITO 31,700 29,200 2,500 7.9%
SAN BERNARDINO 963,600 916,400 47,200 4.9%
SAN DIEGO 1,577,600 1,513,000 64,600 4.1%
SAN FRANCISCO 578,300 560,800 17,500 3.0%
SAN JOAQUIN 328,400 301,300 27,100 8.3%
SAN LUIS OBISPO 141,400 136,000 5,400 3.8%
SAN MATEO 455,400 442,800 12,500 2.8%
SANTA BARBARA 215,000 203,000 12,000 5.6%
SANTA CLARA 1,042,500 1,008,200 34,300 3.3%
SANTA CRUZ 141,700 130,400 11,300 7.9%
SHASTA 73,400 68,400 5,000 6.8%
SIERRA 1,310 1,200 110 8.5%
SISKIYOU 17,220 15,510 1,710 10.0%
SOLANO 208,200 197,800 10,400 5.0%
SONOMA 256,600 247,300 9,300 3.6%
STANISLAUS 245,600 225,300 20,300 8.3%
SUTTER 47,400 42,100 5,200 11.1%
TEHAMA 25,720 23,760 1,960 7.6%
trINITY 4,490 4,070 420 9.2%
TULARE 207,900 177,800 30,000 14.5%
TUOLUMNE 21,680 20,340 1,340 6.2%
VENTURA 422,900 403,400 19,500 4.6%
YOLO 108,700 102,300 6,400 5.9%
YUBA 31,100 28,400 2,600 8.5%