How tough is California's jobs market really?

A 'Now hiring' sign is displayed at a FedEx location on June 23, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Don't let those high-profile tech layoffs fool you about the Golden State's overall job market.  For the moment, the weak spots are in bulletproof tech jobs and other white-collar professions. Other segments have plenty of room if not desperation to hire.

Even though California's unemployment rate crept up a bit in November, it's still more than 2% lower than a year ago. 

"The state unemployment rate went up slightly from 3.8% to 4.0%. The 4% is still though, among the lowest rates we've had during the last 40 years…the unemployment rate, the labor market, remain very, very tight," said employment lawyer and former Employment Development Department Director Michael Bernick.

California's October job gains were a very healthy 56,700.  It's true we're seeing increasing layoffs in tech jobs and white collars jobs, mostly due to the effects of rising inflation. 

"At the same time, we have shortages, sometimes severe shortages, in terms of our direct care jobs, direct service jobs, retail jobs and some blue-collar jobs," said Bernick.

In fact, the latest EDD figures show there are still 1.1 million posted job openings in the state. 

"That's why we're unlikely to see any significant downturn…certainly no dropping out of the market, the job market," said Bernick.

What's truly strange is having so many people choosing not to work. Bankrate, a consumer financial services company, did a survey revealing that around 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. 

"Having a shortfall of emergency savings is really the definition of living paycheck-to-paycheck," said the company's Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

Despite government stimulus checks, only just over half of Americans had $1000 in cash or high-priced credit to pay for an unexpected or emergency expense.  

"The average emergency or unplanned expense that households do incur is actually much higher than that; as much as $2000…$3000," said McBride.

If the expense is put on a credit card or cards, the annual interest is north of 20%, and possessions, such as jewelry, must be sold at fire sale prices.