October 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

California unemployment holds steady in June, job gains slow

California’s unemployment held steady in June as the state continues to recover from pandemic losses, though the pace of adding jobs has slowed as workers take their time rejoining the labor force.

After four consecutive months of adding over 100,000 jobs per month, June saw gains of 73,500 jobs, state officials reported Friday. The state’s jobless rate stayed flat at 7.7%, as an expanded labor force offset job gains. The state’s Employment Development Department revised the May unemployment figure to 7.7%, from 7.9%.

The problem has shifted from a weakness in worker demand to one of supply.

Lynn Reaser, economist

The latest jobs numbers still underscore the economy’s continued recovery after the state dropped COVID-19 restrictions on businesses starting June 15, and as people venture out more into restaurants and theme parks and travel picks up. California typically added between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs each month, before the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Economists said the recovery now hinges more on filling jobs rather than creating them. Workers seem slower to return to the job market than in previous recessions, as the state’s active labor pool is still below its pre-pandemic level.

“California’s job engine made further progress in June, but the problem has shifted from a weakness in worker demand to one of supply,” said Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

Nancy Wheatley, manager of Bahia Marine Inc., a sailboat rigging and marine hardware store in Huntington Beach, has been struggling to fill an entry-level job since April. The position is for an assistant to a master rigger — someone mechanically-minded to help a boat specialist on jobs, no experience necessary.

“Normally it’s not hard to get people to walk through the door with an application,” said Wheatley, who typically fills these jobs in a couple of weeks. Her son Ben, the company’s master rigger, has had to do the jobs alone in the meantime.

Over three months into her search, Wheatley is still looking to fill the job: “It’s exceptionally hard lately.”