Since February 2020, the month before the pandemic lockdowns closed businesses, California has lost 861,000 jobs.
About 490,000 workers have left the labor force altogether. Another 370,000 people still want to work, but can’t find a job.
Job loss in California represents about a quarter of all job losses across the United States compared to before the pandemic. There are now 4.2 million fewer jobs in the United States compared to February 2020.
The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area has been hit particularly hard. About 250,000 people have left the labor force and another 200,000 would like to work but can’t find a job. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim accounts for about one-tenth of all U.S. job losses since February 2020.
Elsewhere in California, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area has seen 120,000 people leave the labor force, while another 50,000 are looking for work but can’t find employment. In nearby Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), only about 30,000 people left the labor force and an additional 13,000 still in the labor force are unemployed (meaning they looked for work in the previous four-week period). Among the major metropolitan areas in California, Silicon Valley has the lowest unemployment rate at only 4 percent—about half the 7.8 percent unemployment rate in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim.
In the main suburban areas, the civilian labor force actually increased in Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, and it’s basically unchanged (down by 7,000 people) in Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade. During the pandemic, many people left their urban apartments and bought suburban homes.
If pandemic-related fears and restrictions continue to abate, people are expected to once again choose where they live, work, and play based on rents, home prices, job availability, and reopening recreational opportunities.