California No. 1 for worker dissatisfaction, by this measure

Let me introduce to you a noteworthy slice of California’s job market – the dissatisfied worker.

It’s this good-sized group of unhappy Californians that helps explain consumer jitters, despite a largely healthy economy. You’ll find them, statistically speaking, in a gap between two job-market benchmarks.

Here’s the math: California’s official unemployment rate averaged 4.2% in the 12 months ended in June. In the same period, a very broad measure of statewide joblessness was 8.7%.

Remember, joblessness is measured by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which polls workers. The key difference between these two workplace yardsticks is two groups: “discouraged” workers – the people who are not in the official workforce but who would work if offered a job – and the “underemployed” workers – those folks with part-time gigs who want full-time work.

My trusty spreadsheet found California’s 4.5-percentage point gap between these two rates to be the largest among the states.

Next in the dissatisfaction rankings comes Alaska with a 4.3-point gap, then New York at 4.2, New Jersey at 4.1 and Connecticut at 3.9. The smallest spread was found in Vermont and North Dakota, both at 1.6. California’s big rivals Texas and Florida had 3.3-point gaps.

High worker dissatisfaction is nothing new to California.

This gap has averaged 6.3 points over 20 years – again, the largest among the states – ahead of Oregon at 6.2, Nevada at 5.9, Washington at 5.8 and Michigan at 5.7. The lows were found in Vermont and North Dakota at 1.6. Texas was 4.5, Florida had 5.6.

Improved, nonetheless

The good news is that dissatisfaction is down statewide and across most of the nation, by this measurement.

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