California Labor Report (February 2023)

California Labor Report

Each month, Star Staffing, an award-winning recruiting and temp hiring firm with locations throughout California, compiles new data and shares expert insights on the state of hiring in California. This labor report covers the most recent employment data for February 2023. Pro tip: Bookmark this report to return to it next month! 

Our California Labor Report provides both a high-level overview of labor trends in California and super-local, industry-specific information, including unemployment rates by county and workplace trends we’ve seen in our own work. Use this data to level up your hiring strategies. Please contact us ( if there’s anything you’d like to see us add for next month!

If you haven’t already, sign up for our mailing list to receive next month’s labor report in your inbox. Subscribers get our beloved newsletter, early access to each monthly report, and other bonuses, including full access to our labor report archives!


Included in this Report

  1. Expert Takeaways on This Month’s Trends
  2. Labor Market Highlights (The TLDR)
  3. What This Means for You
  4. California Unemployment Rates by County
  5. California Resignation Rates
  6. California Labor Law/Policy Changes (if applicable)
  7. Related Articles and Resources 


An Expert’s Takeaway

“Don’t let the headlines for the mass layoffs fool you– the labor market remains strong. It continues to defy expectations with employers adding jobs at a rapid pace and unemployment remaining low. Companies continue to hire and still outpace the amount of job seekers looking for work.” – Nicole Serres, President of Star Staffing


Labor Market Highlights (The TL:DR)

    • California’s unemployment rate increased by a tenth of a percentage point for the month of February 2023 to 4.3 percent.


    • That said, California employers added 32,300 nonfarm payroll jobs this month.


    • Napa had 4th fastest job growth in the US and is California’s highest rate of job creation. Santa Rosa and Solano County rank seventh and 20th in the state!


    • Eight of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in February 2022. Private Education & Health Services (+11,300) led the way with strong gains in the Health Care and Social Assistance subsector where most of the gains were centralized in Offices of Physicians and Child Day Care Services.


    • Across the U.S., things are looking bright! Average hourly earnings for all workers grew at a 3.6% annualized rate over the past three months, a speed that while still high is more consistent with moderating inflation.


    • Also in the U.S.: The prime-age labor force participation rate now stands above its pre-pandemic levels, and 80.5% of prime-age adults hold a job.


Hiring & Work Culture Trends

    • 70% of Americans prefer in-person interviews over video calls (17) or audio-only calls (9%), according to a survey from American Staffing Association.


    • More workers over the age of 50 are choosing to work past the typical retirement age, citing financial needs, a desire to stay active, and a sense of purpose as their motivations. However, older workers continue to face challenges in the workplace, such as age discrimination and job loss, and businesses should have programs in place to retain and attract them.


    • Companies are eliminating degree requirements and favoring experience over education to increase the number of applicants and create a more diverse workforce.


Other Labor News Worth Noting

    • Indeed laid off 2k+ workers and Glassdoor 140 workers. Layoffs are happening, particularly in tech. Thus far, we’re not seeing that in our area of California or manufacturing, winery, or logistic companies.



What This Means for You

    • With the uncertainty of the economy, candidates are open to changing jobs but are selective.


    • Many companies are holding on to workers. The term recently coined is “Labor Holding”. Instead of layoffs, employers are doing what they can to keep employees on payroll knowing the economic downturn could be very soft and will normalize shortly. Having experienced layoffs in 2020 and trying to find workers shortly after, employers do not want to be competing for talent at a large scale.


    • Focus on employee retention. Gen Z and Millenials ranked as the top reason for leaving a company due to looking for more growth opportunities while Baby Boomers resigned for better compensation. Both demographics ranked “to help my mental health” as their top two reasons for leaving a position. Mental health improvement is universally important.


California Unemployment Rates


Statewide: 4.3%

MoM: +0.1% increase in unemployment

YoY: -0.4% decrease in unemployment (from 4.7%)

Other highlights: Construction went up (+7,600), Leisure & Hospitality went up (+11,200), and manufacturing went up (+300). For a detailed overview, read our California Unemployment Rate by County list below.

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California Unemployment Rates by County

Sonoma County: 3.6%

  • Sonoma
  • Santa Rosa
  • Petaluma
  • Healdsburg
  • Rohnert Park
  • Sebastopol
  • Windsor
  • Bodega Bay


Marin County: 3.1%

  • Larkspur
  • Mill Valley
  • Novato
  • San Rafael


Napa County: 3.7%

  • Napa
  • Yountville
  • St. Helena
  • Calistoga
  • American Canyon
  • Angwin


Solano County: 4.7%

  • Fairfield
  • Vacaville
  • Vallejo
  • Benicia
  • Suisun City
  • Dixon
  • Rio Vista


Yolo County: 5.0%

  • Davis
  • West Sacramento
  • Woodland


Sacramento County: 4.5%

  • Sacramento
  • Elk Grove
  • Rancho Cordova
  • Folsom
  • Citrus Heights
  • Fair Oaks


San Joaquin County: 6.4%

  • Stockton
  • Lodi
  • Tracy
  • Manteca
  • Ripon
  • Lathrop


Stanislaus County: 6.6%

  • Ceres
  • Modesto
  • Oakdale
  • Patterson
  • Riverbank
  • Salida
  • Turlock


Alameda County: 3.7%

  • Alameda
  • Oakland
  • Hayward
  • Berkeley
  • San Leandro
  • Livermore
  • Pleasanton
  • Dublin

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California Resignation Rates

Statewide in February 2023: 2.10%

Statewide in last 12 Months: 2.34%

Overall rank: 7th lowest in the country

Other highlights: This piece from the OC Register called “California Fairs Well Amidst a Great Recession” speaks to why we’ve seen such low resignation rates in early 2023! 

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California Labor Law/Policy Changes

Minimum Wage Changes

As of January 1, 2023, the minimum wage is $15.50/hour for all employers in California. Some cities and counties have higher minimum wages than the state’s rate. Fun fact: Mountain View has the highest minimum wage in the state at $18.15/hour. Here is the full list.

Overtime for Agriculture Workers

Also as of January 1, 2023 employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay agriculture workers overtime after 9 hours per day or 50 hours per week. For employers with 26 or more employees (since January 1, 2022), overtime starts after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.

And in Case You Were Wondering About Daylight Savings…

Yes, there was discussion last year about doing away with Daylight Savings Time, but you probably noticed that didn’t happen last month. The motion stalled out. Better luck next year!

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Related Articles and Resources

From Star Staffing

Here are a few of the articles we published on hiring trends and California labor last month.


Don’t forget to sign up to receive our monthly labor report in your inbox as soon as it launches. Newsletter subscribers get access to special reports, including our annual recaps and extra California salary data and hiring advice — don’t miss out! 

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