California Has the Highest Unemployment Rate in the Nation 

California Has the Highest Unemployment Rate in the Nation 

A worker installs solar panels on the rooftop of a house in Pomona, Calif., on Oct. 19, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

3/27/2024

Updated: 3/27/2024

Newly released data from the state’s Employment Development Department revealed an uptick in California’s unemployment rate to 5.3 percent in February, the highest in the country.
The figure represents a spike from 4.5 percent in February 2023 and is a full percentage point higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 4.3 percent in February 2019.
About 1 million Californians are out of work, and approximately 460,000 unemployment insurance claims were filed last month, the data showed. Claims increased by about 27,000 since January and about 45,000 since February 2023.
The news came as a disappointment to one state legislator who said leaders need to come together to craft solutions that benefit residents across the state.
“This month California has regained the top spot for highest gas prices & highest unemployment in the nation,” Assemblyman Juan Alanis posted March 22 on X. “We continue to have the highest poverty rate. It’s time to put away partisan rhetoric & sit down as Californians to fix these very real issues harming working families.”
Seven of the 11 industries tracked by the department experienced month-over-month job losses—including 9,600 positions in construction; 7,300 in trade, transportation, and utilities; and 2,700 financial services jobs.
Compared to the year before, the tech industry has shed the most jobs—losing 54,200—while the professional and business services sector lost the second most at 33,400.
On the other hand, private education and health services led the field in jobs gained since the previous month adding 15,400 and year-over-year more than 180,000 jobs since February 2023.
Significant regional variances exist across the state, with San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin counties registering the lowest unemployment rates, while Colusa, Imperial, and Tulare counties recorded the highest levels, according to the employment development department.
Six states have unemployment rates less than half of the Golden State—including North Dakota at 2 percent, South Dakota at 2.1 percent, and Vermont at 2.3 percent, among others—and the national average is hovering around 3.9 percent—the highest since January 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before California took the unemployment lead, Nevada held the title for the past two years—with the Silver State now placing second across the country at 5.2 percent.
California’s rising rate is due to a loss of non-farm jobs and is compounded by a downward revision of January’s totals by 32,500 jobs.
The state was jolted with a spike in unemployment of 16.1 percent in April 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, as lockdowns and restrictions caused about 3 million jobs to disappear, according to the labor bureau.
Job losses and economic uncertainty are contributing to a budget shortfall of between $38 billion—the governor’s estimate—and $73 billion as forecast by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. The number could grow higher if tax revenues due in the next month fail to meet expectations, analysts said in a February report.
One Republican candidate for the state Assembly, who is headed for a November runoff, said the issue is related to policy decisions made by the supermajority of Democrats who control the Legislature.
“We have to be very honest how and why and who got us here,” Denise Aguilar posted March 22 on X. “The progressive Democrat policies have literally destroyed the working class, and it’s only going to get worse come April 1. Remember that when you vote.”
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Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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