Fabulous job market, but few takers

FILE - A "Now Hiring" sign hangs near the entrance to a Winn-Dixie Supermarket on Sept. 21, 2021, in Hallandale, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The latest national jobs report shows a slowing in hiring across the nation, a slowing that some attribute to inflation. But, there are other strong forces at work.

California's latest unemployment rate is 4.6 percent. It's usually higher than the current, stellar national employment rate of 3.6 percent.

"Three-point-six nationwide by any historic standards, is a low rate," said labor lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick.

The national job gain of 390,000 last month is below the average of some 550,000 monthly job gains over the past year. It's also the first time under 400,000 since April of last year. This suggests the predicted slowing of the economy.

"At the same time, I would note that this number, 390,000, is above the average, the 12-month average prior to the pandemic," said Bernick.

Currently, there are 11.4 million jobs open nationwide, 1.3 million of those in California.

The percentage of people either working or actively looking for work, remains low.

"The labor force participation rate continues to be well below the level prior to the pandemic," said Bernick.

That means upwards of two million workers remain unavailable to employers.

"So, we still have a good number of workers on the sidelines," said Bernick.

On the sidelines, even though Bernick says now is the best time to look for jobs in California in 50 years.

"But there's more, like the continuing 'I quit' index. We see the number of quits, voluntary separations, continues to be very high, over 4 million," said Bernick.

According to the Census Bureau, some of those people appear to have struck out on their own, many online.

"At least throughout 2021 and early 2022 we did see healthy business formation numbers. They were just different types of business than the traditional brick and mortar; more service businesses and internet-based businesses," said Bernick.

If America brings back more industries and businesses to its shores, the question for employers is: where will we find the workers needed to do that.