California added 154,000 jobs last year. Where were the most hires?

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No .1 was San Diego with 21,000 new jobs. San Francisco was the only job loser among 29 big California employment hubs tracked.

Yes, adding any number of jobs isn’t bad, but 154,000 new workers equals only 0.9 percent growth in a hot U.S. job market that grew 2 percent. That hiring pace — as measured on a percentage-point basis — ranked 51st among the states and the District of Columbia.

We often forget that California is the nation’s largest job market with 17.8 million workers. My trusty spreadsheet tells me the Golden State has ranked No. 1 since 1972. The second-biggest job market in the U.S. is Texas at 13.9 million workers. Florida is No. 3 at 9.7 million.

But my readers’ argument that California’s size would make it hard to be among the fastest growing on a percentage-point basis is a stretch. Texas (3.3 percent more jobs in 2023) and Florida (up 3.4 percent) ranked in 2023’s top three for percentage growth along with Nevada (up 3.4 percent).

Look, there are various ways to measure economic progress.

Remember, percentage-point growth shows us the relative scale of hiring trends on the overall California job market as well as against other states. Still, let’s look at California ranked by the number of new jobs created — not the 2023 percentage gain.

My trusty spreadsheet tells me that those 154,000 California hires last year were topped by only three states — Texas (449,600), Florida (316,600) and New York (195,000).

However, California having lofty spots on this kind of job-creation scorecard is nothing newsy. California ranked No. 1 or No. 2 for total new jobs in 11 of the past 12 years (let’s forget coronavirus-chilled 2020’s last-place finish).

And historically speaking, over the past 52 years as the largest job market, California’s count of new workers led the nation 27 times and ranked second 10 times.

Or look how modest last year’s hiring was this way: 154,000 new jobs was 27 percent below California’s average year since 1972.

High rankings often equal high expectations. And in 2023, California’s job market missed its high bar.

Locally speaking

Where were those 154,000 California jobs created last year? Largely to the south, when looking at state data tracking 29 employment hubs …

1. San Diego: 21,000 new jobs bringing its total to 1.56 million (California’s No. 4 employment center).

2. Inland Empire: 19,800 jobs added to 1.69 million (No. 3).

3. Sacramento: 18,200 jobs added to 1.09 million (No. 8).

4. Orange County: 17,000 jobs added to 1.7 million (No. 2).

5. Los Angeles: 13,400 jobs added to 4.59 million (No. 1).

6. Oakland: 10,300 jobs added to 1.2 million (No. 5).

7. Fresno: 8,500 jobs added to 392,900 (No. 9).

8. San Jose: 4,200 jobs added to 1.16 million (No. 7).

9. Bakersfield: 4,200 jobs added to 294,000 (No. 11).

10. Modesto: 3,500 jobs added to 194,600 (No. 14).

And there was a clear last place — San Francisco. It lost 11,400 jobs last year, shrinking to 1.17 million, the state’s No. 6 job market. It was the only job loser among 29 markets tracked.

By the way, if you’re looking for top job growth on a percentage basis, tiny El Centro led California in 2023 with 3.2 percent more workers. But that’s only 1,800 new jobs, bringing the agriculture-rich border town’s employment to 59,000.

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