California job growth ranks last in US while Texas, Florida are best

California job growth ranks last in US while Texas, Florida are best

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: California’s job growth started 2023 as the nation’s worst and Texas and Florida were best. I probably could stop here.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet’s review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages” – a study based on unemployment insurance data filed by bosses vs. the more closely followed monthly job reported derive from employer surveys. These quarterly numbers give a different – some say better – snapshot of job market conditions.


When it came to the hiring pace as the year started, California tied for last among the states with Iowa at 0.9% job growth vs. March 2022. The next slowest were the District of Columbia at 1.1%, and Connecticut and Oregon at 1.4%.

No. 1 was Texas at 4.3%. Florida was second at 4.1%. Then came Nevada at 3.8%, Oklahoma at 3.6% and South Carolina at 3.4%.

By the way, the nation added jobs at a 2.5% pace in this period.


Let’s remember California remains by far the nation’s largest job market with 17.8 million workers. Next comes Texas at 13.6 million, Florida at 9.6 million, New York at 9.4 million and Illinois at 5.9 million.

But the Golden State’s hefty job market moved slowly in early 2023.

Yes, California did add 159,000 jobs in the past year – but that’s a proportionally small share of its workforce. Size didn’t seem to hinder three other job markets in creating new paychecks: Texas added 559,400, tops in the US, followed by Florida at 379,681 and New York at 264,035.

Now this survey shows California workers are well-compensated, ranking No. 5 among the states with $1,735 average weekly wages. No. 1 was Washington, D.C. at $2,341, then New York at $2,015, Massachusetts at $1,917 and Connecticut at $1,817. Texas ranked 11th at $1,480 and Florida was 21st at $1,330.

The lowest wages were found in Mississippi at $944, then West Virginia at $1,062, Montana at $1,079 and Idaho and South Dakota at $1,084.

The sluggish job growth likely contributed to relatively small California pay raises.

The keyword is “relatively” as Golden State wages rose 5.5% in a year. That might seem like a decent raise but among the states increases were smaller only in New York at 2.1% – bad year on Wall Street – then Delaware at 4.8%, Massachusetts at 5%, and DC at 5.1%

The biggest pay jumps were found in Alaska (10.3%), Idaho (10.1%), and North Dakota (9.8%). No. 6 was Florida at 9.3%. Texas was No. 17 at 8.1%.

U.S. pay was jumping at a 6.6% annual pace in early 2023. No wonder the Federal Reserve is so worried about inflation and wages in this cost-of-living headache.

Bottom line

On one hand, California’s addition of 159,000 jobs over 12 months with statewide pay increasing at a 5.5% pace doesn’t seem terrible.

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And it’s not. The 0.9% growth rate of early 2023 equals the hiring pace for the state so far this century.

But in this year’s red-hot job market, those California upticks were badly underperforming the swift national pace.

The technology industry’s challenges aren’t good news for California hiring. The state’s robust labor movement emboldens workers but scares off some employers.

Plus, California bosses are struggling to hire primarily because the state’s supply of jobseekers is underwhelming, and few folks are willing to relocate to the Golden State. In an age of inflation-phobia, high-cost locations like California seem even less desirable.

And, yes, it seems California can’t keep up with the nation’s new economic powerhouses of Texas and Florida. Whether that’s a state ego problem or a serious economic threat remains to be tallied.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

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