CA Unemployment at 9-Yr Low — as Labor Force Shrinks

Hitchhiking (Robyn Beck / Getty)
Robyn Beck / Getty
Newport Beach, CA

Although California’s unemployment rate dipped in May to its lowest level in 9 years, at 5.2 percent, the reason for the latest decline is a shrinking labor force.

California suffered the second-worst unemployment rate of any state during 2008-2009 Great Recession, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. After varying between 4.9 percent and 6.9 percent from 2000 to 2007, California unemployment went straight up to peak at 12.2 percent by May 2009. But since January 2011, the unemployment rate has declined steadily almost every month.

Although the current 5.2 percent unemployment rate is still higher than the 4.7 percent national average. California has added about 2.2 million jobs since 2011, with professional and business services and educational and health services seeing the strongest jobs growth.

But an important reason unemployment is at its lowest rate since May 2007 is that the state’s labor force has been shrinking as large numbers of California citizens leave for other states with better job prospects and lower taxes.

California’s official labor force in the last 12 months shrank by 53,000 workers, according to the Employment Development Department in Sacramento.

Breitbart News has reported extensively about this emigration trend. In 2013 (the most recent data available) 102,972 Californians left for other states, and only 66,294 individuals from other states moved to California.

The only reason that the Golden State achieved a net population gain that year was due to the 169,266 mostly illegal/undocumented immigrants streaming into California. About half of that population is working, but they do not show up in unemployment reports because most work for “under-the-table” cash.

Nearly a million people remain unemployed in California. There were nearly 43,000 new unemployment insurance claims in May, down nearly 4,000 from April.

California’s jobless rate is much higher in several of northern counties. Unemployment is 5.9 percent in Butte County; 7.3 percent in Glenn County; 6.2 percent in Shasta County; 6.6 percent in Tehama County and a state high of 12.7 percent in Colusa County.