California in Recession? (Part II)

The release of labor market indicators suggests not, contra some recent commentary.

Figure 1: California civilian employment over age 16 from household survey (black), nonfarm payroll employment (dark blue), private nonfarm payroll employment (pink) from establishment survey, all in thousands, seasonally adjusted, on log scale. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS and NBER.

For comparison, here is Wisconsin and the Nation nonfarm payroll, all logged and normalized to 2011M01=0.

Figure 2: Log nonfarm payroll employment for California (blue), Wisconsin (red), and US (black), seasonally adjusted, normalized to 2011M01=0. Source: BLS and author’s calculations.

The Philadelphia Fed’s coincident index for California rose through the November reading; the November leading index indicated 3.67% growth for the next six months. While all these indicators are subject to revision (in particular the series based on the household survey), their currently reported values are not consistent with an ongoing recession.

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43 thoughts on “California in Recession? (Part II)

          1. Bruce Hall

            Yes, indeed. It appears that you can be a very high tax entity and outspend your revenues or you can be a very low tax entity and outspend your revenues. Too bad there is not a solution.

            Pensions have become the biggest topic of state debt.

            In that respect, you’ll be glad to see that, as of last year, Wisconsin was doing a pretty good job.

  1. Steven Kopits

    Failed state of Wisconsin moves to No. 8 ranking (tie) among state unemployment rates, boasting a 3.0% unemployment rate, the lowest since 1976.

    Success state of Minnesota moves to No. 10 ranking (tie) at 3.2% unemployment rate.

    Wild success California moves to No. 30 with a 4.3% unemployment rate.

    Home state NJ comes in at a 46th (tie), with a 5.0% unemployment rate.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I don’t buy those numbers at all. 2% is total bullcr*p. But even if you double them to 4%, those are decent numbers. My question is WHAT TYPE of employment are the “98%” employed getting?? Or asking the same thing a slightly different way, what are the average SALARIES associated with each state’s employment numbers (say for example in Oklahoma). If an overly proportionate number of those employed are working at McDonalds, Wal Mart, Home Depot, the 7-11 cashier late night shift, etc……, that can’t even pay their monthly rent or can’t afford to get the type of auto insurance that actually pays out on accident claims—-is that the type of “low unemployment” that people want?? I know crappy salaries make Jeff Bezos happy. I know crappy salaries make the executive board at Wal Mart happy. And I know it makes congressmen bribed by corporations to enact “right-to-work” laws happy. But whether that type of “low unemployment” makes the general population happy, I’m afraid i fall in the unconvinced category.

        1. Steven Kopits

          Median weekly earnings are essentially unchanged over the last decade.

          Total weekly median earnings in constant terms actually bottomed in Q2 2014. Thus, there is a case to be made that the Great Recession was indeed a crypto depression which lasted from December 2007 until June 2014. I’d note that oil prices collapsed just around then.

          I’d also add that this number, to an extent, tends to support the Ed Hanson notion of potential GDP, ie, that potential GDP, which was revised down sequentially by the CBO after 2007, is actually a good bit higher than it appears to be given in the CBO’s latest estimates.

          This could be, assuming there is a reservoir of productivity growth, which I do not rule out.

      2. noneconomist

        Still difficult to compare states simply as states.
        California has 7x more people than Wisconsin with numerous economic/geographic regions. The nine county greater Bay Area has combined unemployment figures under 3%. That would also be true of San Diego and Orange counties where the population is equivalent to Wisconsin (and where temps will hover in the high 70’s this weekend).
        Of course, areas like the Central Valley —where agriculture and oil dominate—have much higher unemployment figures.

  2. Moses Herzog

    I would only say this about the whole California deal, when you look at the deck of cards jerry Brown has been dealt 1) the initial 2011 budget HORRIFIC starting point, 2) Water issues, 3) Weather and wildfire problems 4) the extra costs involved in tolerating immigrants—-Jerry Brown has done a STELLAR job, and with very little “thank you” or fanfare. On a self-brag, the FIRST presidential vote I cast in my life was for Jerry Brown in 1992. I would have voted for Paul Tsongas, but Tsongas couldn’t get on our state’s ballot do to purposely inhibitive red tape laws which made it a living hell to get on the primary election ballot.

  3. PeakTrader

    California is great for the high-skilled and wealthy people it attracted from the rest of the country and the world. However, for the middle class, particularly if they don’t own a home, it has gone downhill. I guess, the poor immigrants are better off than staying in their countries. So, it seems, 20% are doing well, 40% are worse off, and 40% are better off, although that’s not saying much.

    1. pgl

      As usual you are just copying and pasting the Steve Bannon talking points. Could you please stop wasting our time with this nonsense?

  4. Anon3

    California #2 in poverty, so looks like all that soaring gdp is being gobbled up by the rich…..Democrats. One in five CA residents live in poverty. Now that’s an achievement.

    1. noneconomist

      Anon: Stereotype much? I live in a very red CD where 32% of filers itemize their deductions.( My MC referred to this number–in the thousands of his constituents — as “only”. ) The adjoining very red CD has 42% of filers who do so. Of course, there are other red CD , especially in SoCal, where the rates are in the mid-40’s and others close to 40%.
      Your comment reminds me of that made by the simpleton Nunes who proclaimed that only “really, really rich people itemize..” Hearing that, my wife demanded to know why we aren’t really, really rich like Nunes says we are.
      But my MC-while being dismissive of the thousands of his constituents who itemize– has been very supportive of those rich Democrats who will be no longer be humbled by unfair Estate taxes. That two tenths of one percent who will now be able to pass on up to $22 Million tax free, with his full support.

  5. Moses Herzog

    I’m still pissed Menzie didn’t get the invite, and he’s not telling us how the wine tastes in Davos right now. And if the “independent contractor” escorts at Davos Hotel would get a Donald Trump “10” or more like a “6”?? Come on Menzie, get the “IMF good ol’ boy” rolodex out, enquiring minds want to know.

    That’s a shot at Davos, not at Menzie, for anyone wondering.

    1. pgl

      Wow – figure 2 shows that the poverty rate in California is less than 16%. So both Peak Trader and Anon3 either blatantly lied or shows they have no clue. Either way – their comments are an insult to this blog.

      1. Anon3

        Wow— Table 5 shows the poverty rate in CA is 20.4%. Of course, this measure of poverty adjusts income for cost of living …… but this makes no economic sense. Why should the much higher cost of living in states like CA influence real income, hence standard of living?

      1. pgl

        Did you read the header? “3-Year Average Over: 2014, 2015, and 2016”.

        California has been growing faster than the rest of the nation so I want to see where this figure is today. But OK – it costs more to live on a California beach that Kansas. Quality of life may just make up for the higher cost of housing. But hey – nice try!

        1. PeakTrader

          “Quality of life may just make up for the higher cost of housing. But hey – nice try!”

          Nice try, people pay for nicer weather and being close to the beach. In Colorado, before lots people moved in from California, the quality of life was much better. Even in the early 2000s, a five year old four bedroom house on a 1/2 acre lot only a 10 minute drive from downtown Boulder and not far from the mountains cost less than $200,000. A $500,000 house in California, at that time, was much lower quality. The middle class in Colorado had a much better quality of life, except for the weather.

          1. baffling

            so you would be happy if the population of colorado, for instance denver, had remained constant over the past decade or two? just to be clear, you are against growth in colorado? and that would have led to a strong economy in the state?

          2. PeakTrader

            I’m not against development in woodlands, farmlands, fields, etc.. People move in and property values rise. Housing tracts, malls, business centers, schools, etc. are built. However, with overdevelopment we get imbalances, e.g. the disappearance of wildlife – coyotes, foxes, rabbits, etc. – open spaces disappear and are replaced with small condos, there are more traffic jams, longer lines at stores, etc.. People move away when the quality of life falls. Then, new areas are developed.

          3. baffling

            peak, you seem to want to have growth and prosperity without the downsides which come with growth and prosperity.

        1. pgl

          “the Census may not include millions of illegal immigrants.”

          It may? You are just guessing as usual? Weak.

          Of course Census does not count undocumented immigrants for a reason. They hide as they are afraid racists like you may do harm to them.

          So stop pretending you care for immigrants or even poor people as you clearly do not.

    2. ilsm

      The poverty number is same for Cali as for Alabama (shaded explanation say poverty line same for all places). I would rather be poor in Alabama at the “poverty line” than not poor in Cali at 1.6 the level.

  6. dilbert dogbert

    From the evidence of the number of cars headed east on Hwy 80 Kalipornikateya is in deep recession.

    1. noneconomist

      Heavy snow predicted for today and tomorrow may also be a contributing factor. Visiting relative just left for Tahoe to ski and snowboard.

  7. Moses Herzog

    Sometimes If I find something I consider to be SUPER COOL I like to SHARE it on my favorite finance or economics blogs, even though it is unrelated to the post’s topic. [Right now Menzie is probably thinking, “Why don’t you go mess up your own blog??”]. My reasoning is, it will see more eyeballs on the more high quality blogs like Menzie’s—-

    So I wanted to share this with Menzie’s audience. It is exemplary of how more corporations should behave “in the public sphere” and I hope everyone who agrees with me will share it with friends and “RT” it on Twitter.

    1. PeakTrader

      Burger King not only sells whoppers, it tells them.

      How about some media neutrality?

      I’m still waiting for positive news on the Trump Administration from CNN.

          1. PeakTrader

            I’ll bet FOX wasn’t as negative on Obama as the rest of the “mainstream” media was positive on Obama.

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