Job Growth: 2015 Ends with Surge for California

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Job Growth

Job Growth Adds Over 60,000 Jobs

Job availability increased for California as it finished 2015 on a strong note, adding 60,400 jobs in December. According to Beacon Economics’ analysis of the latest numbers from the California Employment Development Department, this was a big uptick from the upwardly revised but still very weak 7,200 jobs added in November.

For all of 2015, monthly job growth in California averaged 38,280 jobs per month. “This is right in-line with the state’s average monthly job gains from 2012 to 2014,” said Beacon Economics’ Founding Partner Christopher Thornberg. “Remember that these figures are based on a selection of surveyed firms and such sharp shifts in the month-to-month growth rate usually represent sample error more than any real changes in the economy.”


Beacon Economics always cautions against reading too much into any single month’s numbers, especially near year’s end. These numbers could be revised when the EDD does their annual benchmark revisions.

Key Points:

  • Despite the growth in payroll employment, California’s unemployment inched up to 5.8% in December. This was driven by a 9,800 decline in household employment coupled with a 4,100 increase in the state’s labor force.
  • Several sectors were responsible for the bulk of the December job gains. The Construction sector in particular finished the year with a bang, adding 11,200 jobs last month. Helping to fuel these gains has been an uptick in residential building permit activity and continued construction activity on the non-residential side.
  • The Administrative sector also had a strong December, adding 10,800 jobs during the month. The Retail Trade sector increased payrolls significantly, adding 6,500 jobs. Importantly, these numbers are seasonally adjusted, which takes into account the uptick in Retail Trade employment that occurs during the holiday shopping season.
  • Job losses occurred in only a handful of sectors in December. The Educational Services sector (-600 jobs) and the Management sector (-500 jobs) were the only major private employment industries to experience significant job losses last month. Both these sectors, however, have seen solid gains over the last year with Educational Services expanding payrolls by 2.6% and Management increasing payrolls by 2.2%.
  • Regionally, job gains were spread across California with Southern California leading the way. Gains in Southern California were led by Los Angeles (+29,800), Orange County (+4,200), and San Diego (+1,900). In the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay (+5,000) and Santa Rosa (+2,000) had the largest gains; and in the Central Valley, Sacramento (+2,200), Bakersfield (+1,600), and Stockton (+1,300) led the way. In percentage terms Madera (+1.1%) experienced the largest gains over the month and Santa Cruz (-1.5%) experienced the greatest losses.

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