California jobs defying economic gravity

The national and state job market continues to perplex even the best experts as the latest numbers point out.  

The nation gained 199,000 jobs in October, well above the projections but lower than the monthly average for the year. California made up 40,000 of those jobs, 20 percent of new jobs nationally, well above its percentage of the national workforce.

Michael Bernick, former EDD Director and current employment lawyer at the Duane Morris law firm in San Francisco, sees it this way. 

"Both in California and the country the job numbers continue to defy gravity and defy all expectations," said Bernick.

Though the national unemployment rate ticked down to 3.7%, California's rate was higher at 4.8%.

"In fact, the second-highest state rate among states," said Bernick.

The number of layoffs and voluntary job quits have remained relatively stable. 

"Job openings did go down significantly from 10.8 million to below 10 million but still well above the pandemic numbers," said Bernick.

The number of seasonal hirings is not turning in eye-popping numbers as retailers and shippers worry about reduced holiday spending. 

"Surprisingly, they show retail hiring to be flat," said Bernick.

Shipping and warehouse operations lost jobs; not many, but unusual for the holiday season. The big winners in hiring: healthcare and government jobs.

So, with jobs defying economic gravity, why do so many people feel the economy is worse? Bernick blames it on consumer prices compared to 2020. 

"The rate of inflation has gone down, but, prices are still 19 percent above where they were in 2020," said Bernick.

Even though we've had healthy wage gains since 2020, those gains have not risen higher than inflation.