California began 2019 in much the same way it finished 2018. The unemployment rate was 4.2% in seasonally adjusted terms, up marginally from December’s 4.1% reading and down from last January’s 4.4% rate.
Nonfarm job gains were up just 3,000 month-to-month, a number that will undoubtedly be revised upwards since monthly job gains across the MSAs of California (which account for about 96% of all jobs in the state) added up to nearly 13,000 jobs.
Nonfarm jobs grew 1.4% or by 246,400 positions yearly in January, somewhat weaker than in recent months. That said, the pace of job growth has slowed in recent months. One year ago, the state registered a 2.5% gain; by December, the pace of growth fell to 1.6%.
“For the most part, the state’s industries remain on track in this first report of the year, led by health care, professional scientific and technical services, and leisure and hospitality, similar to how we ended 2018,” said Robert Kleinhenz, Executive Director Research for Beacon Economics and the UCR Center for Forecasting. “Retail trade continues to struggle on the job front as the landscape in that sector is undergoing the transformation, and financial activities employment has been under pressure due to continuing consolidation. The annual EDD revision that takes place at this time of the year resulted in only minor changes to last years headline numbers in terms of the unemployment rate and job growth.”
Regionally, metro area job growth in the state was led by San Francisco with a 3.8% yearly gain equivalent to 42,600 jobs. Los Angeles was second with 31,000 jobs but this was a gain of under 1%. Job gains in the Inland Empire dropped below 2% year-to-year (1.7%).
Beacon Economics is an independent economic research and consulting firm based in Los Angeles. The UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development is the first world class university forecasting center in the Inland Empire. This analysis was authored by Christopher Thornberg, Robert Kleinhenz, and Brian Vanderplas. Learn more at www.beaconecon.com and www.ucreconomicforecast.org.