Spikes and Dips in Both US and California Jobs Data

Total US employment has been oscillating around the 139 million level for the past year until recently, when some job growth started to appear in December and January. According to Friday’s report from BLS.gov, the first month of 2011 saw total employment rise to 139.864 million persons. A figure that regains levels last seen in late 2004. Of course, the structural problem of America’s labor market is unchanged, because of population growth during that same time period. At current rates of “jobs growth” it would take until 2016 to regain the employment highs of 2006-2007. | see: United States Employment in Millions (seasonally adjusted) 2001-2011.

In contrast to the recent spike up in US total employment, the State of California has just made a new lower low in total employment, post the onset of the 2008 crisis. March saw the Employment Development Department produce its five year data revisions. Previously, it had appeared that California’s worst months for employment had been in Q4 of 2009. But according to revisions the new low of 15.877 million occurs as recently as November 2010. | see:  California Employment in Millions (seasonally adjusted) 2000-2011.

Other recent data from California, from the continued strong growth in Food Stamp usage to soaring gasoline prices suggests to me that recession risk is rising very quickly for the Golden State. Can the United States avoid a second recession if California, which has clearly failed to make an economic recovery, continues to languish or declines even further? That California’s job revisions last week reversed the trend in employment from weak growth to further decline is not encouraging.

-Gregor

Further Reading: see the comment section to this LA Times Story reporting “job growth” last week: California adds nearly 100,000 jobs in February as hiring accelerates.