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April 16, 2021

Beacon Employment Report | California

Presented by Beacon Economics

Copyright © Beacon Economics LLC

Brisk Job Recovery In California, Signaling The Start Of A Prolonged Hiring Expansion As Vaccination Rates Rise

Unemployment Rate Declines, But Driven By Drop In State Labor Force

California’s labor market continued to expand at a rapid pace in March, according to an analysis jointly by the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development and Beacon Economics.


 Jobs Added In March

Total nonfarm employment in California grew by 119,600 positions in the latest numbers. And In addition to March’s strong monthly gains, February’s gains were revised up to 156,100, a 15,100 increase over the preliminary estimate of 141,000.

“After a dismal winter, we’re finally seeing some life return to the state’s labor market, and with the rising rate of vaccinations, the positive prints over the past two months should be just the beginning of a prolonged hiring expansion in California,” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at the Center for Forecasting and Beacon Economics. “This is very welcome news for workers who have been displaced from the labor market by the effects of the pandemic.”

1.53 million

Fewer People Employed

In March 2021, there were 1.53 million fewer people employed in California than in February 2020. Total nonfarm employment in the state has contracted 8.6% since February of last year. This pace of growth trails the nation overall, where the labor market has shrunk by 5.5% over the same period. However, with the decline in new COVID-19 cases in the state, and with the accelerated rollout of vaccines, the worst effects of the pandemic-driven economic fallout are in the past, and as long as the virus remains under control, the state’s labor markets should expand at a healthy pace in the coming months.


Unemployment Rate

California’s unemployment rate declined to 8.3% in March, down from 8.5% in the previous month, but remains elevated relative to the 6% rate in the United States overall. Moreover, this decline did not occur for the right reasons, 39,700 workers left California’s labor force in March which accounted for the majority of the decline in the unemployment rate for. With this decline, the state’s labor force has fallen by 530,000 (-2.7%) workers since its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020.



The Beacon Employment Report | California is a unique analysis of California’s employment numbers and trends. Each month, we link our own econometric predictions to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the California Employment Development Department to identify important changes in employment across industries and regions. The Beacon Employment Report is also one of the few analyses that uses seasonally adjusted numbers, which are critical to revealing accurate trends and insights within data. The analysis is a sample of the kind of research available from the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development.

More Information

For information about the Center’s practice areas and publications, please contact:

Director of Business Development Rick Smith at 858.997.1834 or

Deputy Director Sherif Hanna at 424.646.4656 or