The Impact Of A Court-Ordered Disruption Of California's Gig Economy

After growing at an average rate of 27,100 employed people per month from January 2015 to September 2017, California's total employment stalled out at a level just over 18.5 million in the 12 months from September 2017 to August 2018 before finally resuming an upward trajectory.

Google Search Results

That observation started us digging into the state's employment data, where we were looking to identify distressed industries within the state, specifically looking for economic sectors that might have been losing jobs as others were gaining them, which would account for the period of stagnation.

After looking the data over, the leading candidates were the state's Mining and Logging sector(which includes Oil Extraction), the Construction sector, and California's catch-all "Other Services" economic sector. But the job numbers we saw in these industries didn't explain the full magnitude of the deviation in trend of the state's total employment level that occurred during this time.

That's when it occurred to us that we were comparing apples and oranges, where the total employment data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly survey of U.S. households, while the industrial employment figures represent the number of jobs counted in the BLS' monthly survey of U.S. business establishments.

As it happens, we have some experience with that topic, where top Google search result for difference between household and establishment survey currently returns an article that we wrote several years ago.

It occurred to us that we could use the difference between the kinds of employment data collected between the two surveys to determine if the apparent stagnation in California's total employment level from September 2017 through August 2018 could be partially accounted for by changes in non-establishment employment, which could potentially explain the gap.

So we took both sets of seasonally-adjusted data and graphed them on the same chart, projecting the linear trend for each that was established in the period before the period of stagnation in the total employment data took hold in September 2017. We found something remarkable.

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