2023 the year in jobs, employment and labor

The year in jobs 2023, was both reserved and raucous in terms of the labor market cooling and labor unions colliding with employers. As every year and using the latest numbers available, we look at the evolution of employment year over year.

A Now Hiring sign posted in the window of a restaurant looking to hire workers on May 05, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Year-over-year, California's monthly job growth has slowed from an average of 50,000 new jobs a month to under 10,000 now, but it's still growing. State unemployment rose from 4.1% to 4.9%. But that's still very low compared to the historical average.

 In terms of job openings, year over year, that number decreased from 1.2 million to about 800,000, a 33% decline. "But, this number, 800,000, is still well above what we've seen in any previous time in the time previous to the pandemic," said Duane Morris Law Firm employment lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick. 

Bernick says the biggest change and a growing one by far, the number of remote workers. "We've seen in 2023, that it's not transitory. We're not going back. This is a dynamic labor market dynamic that's here to stay," said Mr. Bernick.

Another dynamic, union power that works and is growing. "We've seen both a greater number of union activities as well as a greater number of workers involved," said Bernick. Specifically, 393 job actions, each involving more than a thousand workers, a number not seen in a decade.

All that said, jobs in construction, manufacturing, logistics and other blue-collar jobs, continue to grow, with this economic pothole. "That's a shift we haven't seen in previous recoveries before." said Bernick.

And, employers complain that shortages of retail, direct services and direct care workers drags on. Bernick says getting a better handle on streamlining labor laws and regulations, to make it less hard for employers to hire, should be a priority in 2024.

As to Inflation, it has eased to just 3%. But, a lot of past inflation is now baked into the cake. "The prices, since 2020 have gone up nearly 20%," said the former EDD Director.

Going forward, artificial intelligence is so new, it's having as much positive impact on jobs, such as productivity, as its potential for job destruction.