California Added 44 Percent of New U.S. Jobs in August As State Unemployment Remains High

California accounted for 44 percent of new jobs added across the U.S. in August, though the state's unemployment rate remains high, data shows.

According to the California Employment Development Department, the state has gained an average 110,600 new jobs per month since February. In August, 235,000 jobs were added by employers nationwide, meaning a large percentage were in California alone.

"We still have more work to do in regaining those jobs lost to the pandemic, but this is promising progress for California's economic recovery," Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Though California has set records for new jobs added, the state's unemployment rate has remained high. Before the pandemic, it was at a record low. Now California is the second-highest in the country at 7.5 percent, just behind Nevada's 7.7 percent unemployment rate in August.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Now Hiring California
California accounted for 44 percent of all U.S. jobs added in August, but the state's unemployment rate remains high. A pedestrian walks by a now hiring sign at a Lamps Plus store on Sept. 16, 2021 in San Francisco, Calif. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Public school teachers and staff returning to the classroom in August fueled another impressive month of job gains in California as officials said Friday that the state added another 104,300 jobs on its march to erase an unprecedented pandemic employment deficit.

Government jobs accounted for nearly 45 percent of all job gains in California in August, reflecting the start of the public school year and the billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief money that has poured into state and local governments.

"Employment gains have not been sufficient to account for the increase in labor force in the state, so I would say we need to create more jobs," said Sung Won Sohn, a professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University who closely monitors California's job market.

California has so many jobs to get back because it lost so many jobs at the start of the pandemic. The state shed more than 2.7 million jobs in March and April 2020, back when Newsom issued the nation's first statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order.

Just over 1.6 million of those jobs have come back since then, representing 62.1 percent of the losses. That suggests many workers have yet to return to their pre-pandemic jobs, explaining why many employers have reported difficulty finding enough workers.

That problem has been most visible in the leisure and hospitality industry, where some restaurant operators have said they are struggling to keep up with demand.

The evidence is anecdotal, but it suggests some workers without family economic pressures have decided not to return to jobs in the hospitality industry paying less than $20 an hour, said Michael Bernick, an attorney for Duane Morris and a former director of the state Employment Development Department.

"One scenario is that businesses in these fields turn to business models that require fewer workers. We've seen that before in California," Bernick said.

The hotel and restaurant sector has had the largest job gains in California this year, but data from August shows the pace of hiring has slowed. The industry added just over 33,000 jobs in August after averaging more than 61,000 new jobs monthly between February and July.

But people could be more motivated to return to work in September. Extended federal unemployment benefits ended earlier this month, meaning millions of Californians lost their weekly unemployment checks as their eligibility expired.

California adds new jobs
Public school teachers and staff returning to the classroom in August fueled another impressive month of job gains in California according to data from the California Employment Development Department, released Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. In this Aug. 11, 2021, file photo Joy Harrison instructs her second graders at Carl B. Munck Elementary School, in Oakland, Calif. Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File