California Holds Highest Unemployment Rate in the Nation

Though California’s joblessness peaked at 16.4 percent in April 2020, our state’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the nation at 6.5 percent, according to a new Bay Area Council Economic Institute Analysis. While job growth accelerated over the course of 2021 due to vaccine approvals and a reopening economy, the Delta and Omicron variants brought forth new challenges to achieving a full recovery.

The data highlights the importance of the work the Bay Area Council is doing with the Los Angeles Business Federation and more than 70 other business and community organizations across the state to create the New California Coalition. The goal of NCC, behind the leadership of Council CEO Jim Wunderman and BizFed CEO Tracy Hernandez, is to mobilize one million Californians and 100,000 small businesses to enact common sense policy and legislative solutions to the many business climate and other issues that are driving residents, jobs and businesses from the state, undermining California’s economic competitiveness and degrading our overall quality of life.

According to Economic Institute analysis, other states with large service and tourism sectors such as Nevada, New Jersey and New York all saw similarly high unemployment rates (above 6 percent), while other Western states such as Oregon and Washington remain in the middle of the pack, closer to the nation’s overall rate of 3.9 percent. The Bay Area also significantly lags peer regions in the share of jobs recovered thus far, highlighting the long road to full recovery ahead.

California’s business climate will be the focus of a webinar the Bay Area Council is hosting on Feb. 24 with CEO Jim Wunderman and featuring research by noted urban studies experts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky of Chapman University. Stay tuned for registration information in the coming days.

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