SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In the last year, California's job market seems to remain apart, aside and mostly immune to the overall economy.
In all sectors of California's employment, 2022 saw major job gains, even amid layoffs.
"We basically gained 675,000 jobs over the year from November to November," said employment lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick.
The Golden State recovered at record speed.
"The Great Recession it took us six years, six years to regain the jobs lost. We've now regained all the jobs lost in the pandemic in two years," said Bernick.
Over the last year California unemployment rates declined from 5.8% to 3.9% in September, inching up to the current level of 4.1%.
"We're still at a very, very low unemployment rate compared to the last 50 years," said Bernick.
According to the California Business Roundtable, new business formations remain very strong, surprising many experts. Ever since pre-pandemic 2019, new business startups steadily increased until this year's projected half million, which is still a very strong number almost double the start up a decade ago.
"We're seeing people starting their own businesses; often not brick and mortar; often internet-based; often sole proprietorships," said the employment lawyer.
But going into 2023, Bernick cautions that higher interest rates, inflation and declining business confidence will see job growth slowing or flat, until brighter economic data appears and interest rates level off or decline. Though retirements increased during the pandemics, many prime age workers, those 25 to 55, actually going back to work remains lower that before the pandemic.
"And much lower than it was in to 90s and 2000s," said Bernick.
Even though wages have gone up on average across all groups, low income workers have lost out to inflation.
"There's still a big gap, even with these wage increases between middle and higher wage jobs in California and the lower wage workforces," said Bernick.
So, at this point a soft economic downturn seems more likely than a hard recession.