California will report on Friday how the labor market performed in December. Economists are keeping an especially close eye following a lackluster national jobs report for the last month of 2013.
The government said this month that U.S. employers added only 74,000 jobs last month, a sharp drop from the 241,000 jobs gained in November and the smallest figure in almost three years. That kind of slowdown could be reflected in California as well.
The state unemployment rate current stands at 8.5%, according to the Employment Development Department. In the 12 months that ended last November, nonfarm payrolls rose 1.6% to 226,000.
Here are a few things to watch out for on Friday's report:
1. Some economists predict that California will continue to outpace the U.S. for job growth, a trend that has been consistent in the years since the recovery began in 2010. Although the state traditionally grabs about 10% of total job gains for the country (in this case, that would be about 7,400), some economists predict between 25,000 to 30,000 net jobs in December.
That kind of job growth is decent, if not spectacular. The unemployment rate could also tick down as more people are hired and others leave the job market after temporary positions disappear after the holidays.
2. The healthcare and construction sectors should keep expanding. Health and educational services -- which gained 32,300 positions over the last 12 months -- will continue to benefit from the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, economists predict. Construction has also seen a comeback as the housing market recovers.
3. On the flip side, the financial services industries may continue to bleed jobs. As fewer homeowners look to refinance their homes, the mortgage industry has slashed jobs. Last fall, Bank of America cut up to 4,200 mortgage jobs, Citigroup Inc. slashed 1,100 and Wells Fargo let 5,300 people go.
4. Economists say the Inland Empire is making a comeback, although the economies of Riverside and San Bernardino counties continue to lag behind its coastal neighbors. In the past two months, nonfarm employment for those two areas combined gained 10,500 jobs.
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