Is California’s unemployment rate really 9.5%? – Daily news

Is California’s Unemployment Problem Double What It’s Commonly Considered?

Consider the quarterly employment report from the BLS, which contains another dismal statistic for Californians: Measuring unemployment using a broad definition of people with pay problems.

This criterion includes officially unemployed, discouraged workers and those who are employed. It includes people working part-time who want full-time employment. It also tracks people who are out of work, who are not counted as unemployed because they are not currently looking for work.

What some people consider to be the “real” unemployment rate shows that 9.5% of Californians were in this dire state of employment in the first quarter of the year. That’s nearly double the “official” unemployment rate, and the state’s worst rate since the second quarter of 2022.

It’s also the highest in the nation, ahead of Nevada at 8.9%, Alaska at 8.6%, Washington at 8.6% and New Jersey at 8.3%. The lowest was Vermont at 3.8%, followed by South Dakota at 3.9% and North Dakota. California rival Texas was 11th with 7.5%, and Florida was 30th with 6.1%.

Even by the traditional measure of unemployment, California has the second highest unemployment rate at 4.8%. Only Alaska was worse at 4.9%.

California was followed by New Jersey with 4.8%, Washington and Nevada with 4.7%. Texas was 12th at 3.9%. Florida was 40th at 2.9%. The lowest was Vermont at 1.8%, followed by North Dakota and South Dakota at 2.2%.

No matter the math, California unemployment isn’t just the tech industry’s big losses in recent years. High interest rates have hampered real estate related industries. A relatively strong US dollar hurts manufacturing. And economic uncertainty is constraining white-collar, business service personnel.

Still, you can find some improvement in the labor market if you compare it to where “real” employment is headed – early 2024 and pre-pandemic days.

California’s “real” unemployment rate in the first quarter was 1.2 percentage points below the 2015-19 average of 10.7%.

And it’s a bigger drop than the nation: The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7% to start 2024 from 8.7% in 2015-19—a drop of just 1 percentage point.

Jonathan Lansner is a business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

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