Jobs abound in California, yet unemployment remains high

With news that the nation has reached its lowest number of layoffs in more than a half-century, one may think the snap back to a booming national economy is blasting off. At the same time, California may be brushing it off to its economic disadvantage.

California, the nation's largest job market, has experts scratching their heads about why job data is confusing and contradictory. 

One such expert is labor lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick who looks at all the data in fine detail. 

"And they really show the cross currents in our economy," said Bernick.

California currently has double the percentage of new unemployment claims than the state should have compared to other states. Yet, with more than a record million jobs listed and available, workers are not grabbing them up. 

But, it is also true that the state gained almost 100,000 jobs in the most recent month we have data. However, it's also true the number of people quitting their jobs that month far surpasses the hires by more than fourfold. 

"Our quit rate, the number of people who leave jobs, is at the highest ever. It was, the most recent month of September, it was over 440,000; just on the month," said Bernick.

People quit for a number of reasons. Some, to get better jobs. Others change careers. Some move elsewhere in the state, Others leave the state. Many, says Bernick, have just dropped out while they rethink their careers and lives, especially working moms. 

One working mom, Keryn Francisco said this, "Those childhood memories are deeply embedded in his soul. Those are the things that I realize once you get off that rat race treadmill, you miss."  

If all that was not enough, last Friday, came news of a new COVID variant which we don't fully understand. 

That has already curtailed travel in or out of several African countries and caused the stock market to plunge 900 points over two percent in a single day. 

"It's a major factor or can be a major factor," said Bernick. 

That might include new surges where the variant has already traveled, more remote working, and renewed economic backsliding.