”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: A hiring spree in the low-wage leisure and hospitality industry likely caused California to be the only state with a drop in average weekly wages this spring.
Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed quarterly employment data taken from a federal study of employer employment filings. These stats are considered a more accurate snapshot of employment trends – worker counts and average weekly wages – than the more widely discussed (and more current) monthly jobs figures.
California’s average weekly wage dropped by $10 in a year – or 0.6% – to $1,572 for the April-to-June quarter.
The top gain nationally was in Idaho, up 8.5%, followed by Vermont at 8.1%, Maine at 8%, Montana at 7.4% and Georgia and Utah at 7.2%.
The smallest wage gains, after California, were found in New Hampshire at 0.4%, Washington state at 1.6%, the District of Columbia at 2% and Arkansas at 2.4%.
California’s key rivals Texas landed at No. 18 with a 6.1% increase, while Florida at No. 10 saw a 6.5% gain. Wages nationwide grew 4.3%.
California bosses were in a hiring mood this spring.
California added more workers than any state – 950,000 in a year. Then came Texas at 649,000, New York at 453,000, Florida at 435,000, and New Jersey at 231,000. California accounted for 16% of the 5.77 million jobs added nationally.
Even with California being the nation’s largest job market, the hiring spree was impressive. The state ranked No. 3 with a 5.6% growth rate and topped the nation’s 4% expansion.
Only Nevada at 7.8% and New Jersey at 5.8% fared better. Following California was Texas at 5.2%, New York at 5.1% and Florida at 5%.
And average weekly wages were high in California. It ranked No. 4 at $1,572, topped only by Washington, D.C., at $2,139, Massachusetts at $1,637, and New York at $1,587. Texas was No. 14 at $1,284 and Florida was No. 22 at $1,186. The national wage was $1,294.
It’s a decent bet that California’s wage dip is largely due to the state’s late revival of its leisure and hospitality industries.
Remember, these businesses remained throttled by pandemic limitations well into the middle of 2021. And a hiring spree in low paying industries can depress a statewide average.
This federal jobs study has yet to release its industry-by-industry results for the spring quarter. But for the year ended in March, California’s leisure and hospitality industries added 432,000 jobs – 30% growth – equal to one-third of all California hires. Average wages were $665 vs. $1,644 across all industries.
California wages rose at a 1% annual rate as of March, but take away the leisure and hospitality jobs and the rate rises to 2.3%.
This statistical debate aside, the surge in low-paying positions means California’s huge job growth has diminished economic clout. And meager pay in leisure and hospitality work raises all sorts of questions about how these employees can financially survive in this high-cost state.
Not to mention how inflation wipes out wage gains at all pay levels. California’s Consumer Price Index was up 8.4% in the year ended in June.
How the state’s 10 largest jobs market fared in the year ending in June, by this math. Wages dipped in Bay Area counties …
Los Angeles County: $1,435 average weekly wage, up 2.5% in a year with 241,967 new jobs or 5.7% growth.
Orange County: $1,420 wage, up 2.3% in a year with 78,523 new jobs or 5.1% growth.
San Diego County: $1,420 wage, up 3.2% in a year with 82,073 new jobs or 5.8% growth.
Santa Clara County: $3,262 wage, down 7.1% in a year with 50,809 new jobs or 4.8% growth.
San Bernardino County: $1,092 wage, up 3.6% in a year with 41,445 new jobs or 5.3% growth.
Riverside County: $1,049 wage, up 2.3% in a year with 44,410 new jobs or 5.8% growth.
Alameda County: $1,730 wage, down 0.9% in a year with 32,700 new jobs or 4.3% growth.
San Francisco County: $2,897 wage, down 15.1% in a year with 60,889 new jobs or 8.9% growth.
Sacramento County: $1,387 wage, up 3.7% in a year with 26,924 new jobs or 4% growth.
San Mateo County: $2,888 wage, down 7.2% in a year with 20,452 new jobs or 5.1% growth.
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]