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State unemployment falls to single digits

California’s unemployment rate fell to 9.3 percent in October, down nearly two points month-over-month, according to data released Friday.

Non-agricultural jobs grew by 145,500 between September and October, the third-largest job gain since 1990, the state Employment Development Department reported.

California’s unemployment rate remained well above the national rate, 6.9 percent but the October numbers did contain some good news: California’s labor force expanded significantly last month, growing by 609,100. 

In the past, when unemployment fell, that drop was aided by a decline in the state’s labor force, making the decline not as impressive as it normally would be.

The Inland Empire added 10,500 jobs during October, the report stated.

While California remains 238,300 jobs below its job count before the pandemic hit, it has still improved substantially from six months ago, when the unemployment rate hit a record 16.4 percent.

“The expansion of the state’s labor force is one of the brightest spots we have seen in the labor market for many months,” said Taner Osman, research manager at the UC Riverside School of Business and Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, it comes just as Covid-19 cases are again surging in California and restrictions on activity have been put in place. Beyond the public health effects, the new surge is terrible timing for the 1.5 million workers who have been out of a job since February.”

Forty-four percent of the jobs lost in California during the pandemic have been recovered, according to the report.   

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