We often hear about the unemployment rate when the economy is down. In good times like we are experiencing now, the employment rate in California has been rising steadily, and it’s important to note that too.
New data released by the California Economic Development Department suggests this trend is likely to continue, according to one recent article from the San Francisco Bay News.
Numbers released in July show the state unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2 percent. The previous rate for the month of June was 6.1 percent, so these numbers are slightly better, which is a good sign.
However, because to month-to-month fluctuations can and do happen without regard to the national and local economy, it is often helpful to look at year-over-year rates. Last year at this time, the California unemployment rate was 7.4 percent. Unlike the 0.1 percent rise we saw from June to July of this year, we can see that the unemployment rate has fallen significantly overall in the past year.
As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, the data for state level unemployment rates comes from a federal survey taken each month. For the state of California, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a survey of 5,500 households within the state to determine the statewide unemployment rate for the month. It should be noted that in order to be considered unemployed for the purpose of a survey, the person must be out of work, able to work, and currently looking for a job. If someone is disabled or chooses not to work, he or she will not be considered unemployed in terms of the local or national unemployment rate.
Looking at statewide total numbers, the survey estimated there are 17,861,000 people currently employed in California as of last month, and this is nearly 500,000 more employed people that we had the previous year. While this is certainly good news, one issue that does arise is what type of employment these individuals have. With many of these new jobs part of the growing on-demand economy, such as ride-sharing drivers, employers are trying to consider the workers independent contractors, as opposed to employees. While these people will still count as employed in terms of the California unemployment rate, they will not be given the same benefits and protections as standard employees.
The reason an independent contractor is not afforded the same benefits as an employee is, under the law, an independent contractor does not work full-time for the employer and is not under constant supervision of the employer. When the job is over, the contractor is not out of work, but only finished with one particular job. For example, when you hire a contractor to put a new floor in your house, he is not your employee. You do not provide him with tools and do not tell him exactly how to do his job. This person is an independent contractor.
However, a worker who is constantly supervised and provided with the tools to the do a job by his or her boss is more likely to be an employee, and, if his or employer is misclassifying worker as an independent contractor to save money and limit liability, this may be actionable in court.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
California employment rate slowly rising, August 22, 2015, SF Bay News, by Daniel Montes
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McNaughton v. Charleston Charter School – Winning a Wrongful Termination Case, Feb. 7, 2015, California Employment Law Blog