California Labor Report (November 2023)

Star Staffing Labor Report

Each month, Star Staffing, a California-based staffing agency compiles new data and shares expert insights on the state of hiring in California. This labor report covers the most recent employment data from October 2023 (released in November).

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Included in this Report

  1. Takeaways from experts on this month’s trends
  2. California labor highlights (unemployment rates, industry details, etc.)
  3. Interpreting the data
  4. This month’s work culture news 
  5. Detailed Report: California unemployment rates by county
  6. Detailed Report: California resignation rates
  7. California labor law news and policy changes (if applicable)
  8. Great reads and resources


Expert Takeaways

“This is still a good labor market. There’s no recession right now that you can see in the labor market data. [October’s jobs numbers are] “mostly consistent with the soft landing story.’’ – Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab speaking to AP 


“‘Full employment is so good for the economy. It raises wages, it brings people into the labor force who have been traditionally left behind, it is an extremely equalizing force,’ said Bharat Ramamurti, former deputy director of the National Economic Council. But that equalizing force might be part of the perception problem. ‘I think a lot of people respond to that negatively because they’re on the other side of that equation.’ – Emily Stewart, business and economics writer for Vox 


“This report shows a lot of weakening on the surface, but it was clearly clouded by a lot of strike activity that now seems to be resolved. Once you squeeze past the one-off shocks in October, it’s actually a relatively strong report.” – Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at Glassdoor to the Washington Post

California Labor Market Highlights


Statewide: 4.8%

MoM: Up 0.1% compared to last month

YoY: Up 0.7% compared to September 2022


Other highlights:

  • While unemployment rose by 0.1% again this month (same as September), California employers added 40,200 nonfarm payroll jobs which accounted for a whopping 26.8% of the 150,000 national job gains (Source:



  • Interestingly, in Northern California areas (where Star Staffing has offices), the unemployment rate dropped in most counties. (See the numbers in our detailed by county section).


  • While the unemployment numbers aren’t ideal, The California Center for Jobs & the Economy also reported that California’s monthly job gains came in first in the nation. 



Around the U.S.: 


  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported the increase in jobs (150,000) and that the U.S. unemployment rate remained the same. It attributed increases in jobs to the health care, government, and social assistance industries. 


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Interpreting the Data

“Surface weakness” in both the California and U.S. labor reports may seem worse than it is. Most experts this month agree that the national labor report is looking good. California’s increase in unemployment is worth keeping an eye on, but our job gains numbers offset the bad news and then some. By and large, worries about a recession seem quieter this month — obviously, a good sign.


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Hiring & Work Culture Trends

  • Southern California real estate firms added 10,200 jobs in October — a hiring rate that was ~1.4 times higher than the pre-pandemic seasonal norm, according to the OC Register. The share of local employment was a whopping 9.9%.


  • A high school in the hills of Salinas, California has created a new pathway for at-risk California students to find jobs and avoid jail. The stats are staggering: “While 40% of youth who go through the county’s juvenile justice system have another encounter with the law, 84.8% of students graduating from Rancho Cielo do not re-offend.” according to USA Today.


  • Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California (via the CalCompetes program) has awarded ~$149 million in grants and tax credits to 12 companies, estimating that the program investments will create nearly 6,000 full-time jobs and bring in an estimated $1.3 billion in private investment over the next five years.


  • U.S. growth is expected to slow in 2024, which means a more difficult market for employees. But there are strategies for that, according to The Hill.


  • The three most “Googled” jobs in the U.S. can pay over $200,000 per year — and don’t require a college degree. (via CNBC)


  • Gen Z is predicted to constitute 23% of the global workforce by 2024. More than 50% of them come from non-white backgrounds. (via Forbes)


  • “Wages are rising. Jobs are plentiful. Nobody’s happy.” Why? Vox explores.


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Northern California Unemployment Rates by County


Alameda County: 4.4% (down 0.1%)

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


Marin County: 3.6% (down 0.1%)

Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, San Rafael


Napa County: 3.5% (down 0.1%)

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


Sacramento County: 4.5% (down 0.2%)

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


San Joaquin County: 6.2%  (same)

Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop


Sonoma County: 3.6% (down 0.2%)

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


Solano County: 4.7% (down 0.2%)

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


Stanislaus County: 6.0% (down 0.5%)

Ceres, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock


Yolo County: 4.4% (down 0.2%)

Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland


Note: For Southern California unemployment rates, see


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California Resignation Rates

Statewide in May 2023: 2.00% (same compared to last month)

Statewide in last 12 Months: 2.12% (down by 0.7%)

Overall rank: 4th lowest in the country (source)


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California Labor Law/Policy Changes (2023)

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.


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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! 

Star Staffing is a woman-owned, award-winning recruiting and temp hiring firm with 6 branch locations throughout California.

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