Merced, CA – December 2023 Jobs Report – Modest Progress Amid Regional Challenges

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Merced’s December 2023 jobs report offered mixed signals, painting a picture of cautious recovery tinged with lingering pre-existing struggles. While the unemployment rate dipped slightly compared to November, overall nonfarm employment remained stagnant, mirroring broader economic uncertainties in the San Joaquin Valley.


  • The unemployment rate edged down to 8.5%, marking a 0.3 percentage point decrease from November but still surpassing the state average of 4.8%. (Source: BLS)
  • Total nonfarm employment held steady at 70,800 jobs, inching down slightly (0.4%) from the previous month. (Source: BLS)
  • The year-on-year comparison revealed a 1.7% decline in overall employment, highlighting persistent job market challenges. (Source: BLS)

Industries and Occupations on the Rise:

  • Education and health services added 200 jobs in December, driven by ongoing recruitment efforts within the healthcare sector. (Source: BLS)
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services saw a modest gain of 100 jobs, potentially indicating increased demand for skilled professionals in specialized fields. (Source: BLS)
  • Leisure and hospitality continued its gradual recovery, adding 50 jobs as tourism and local businesses experienced seasonal upticks. (Source: BLS)

Industries and Occupations Facing Downturns:

  • Construction shed 100 jobs in December, likely due to the completion of seasonal projects and the onset of winter weather impacting outdoor construction activities. (Source: BLS)
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities remained flat, with no significant job gains or losses reported. (Source: BLS)
  • Government employment saw a slight decline of 50 jobs, potentially reflecting ongoing budgetary constraints within the public sector. (Source: BLS)

Comparison to Previous Periods:

  • Compared to December 2022, Merced’s overall employment picture remained largely unchanged, with a negligible 0.7% decrease in nonfarm jobs. (Source: BLS)
  • The unemployment rate, however, showed a slight improvement compared to December 2022, dropping from 8.9% to 8.5%. (Source: BLS)

Future Outlook:

Merced’s job market outlook for the coming months remains uncertain. While ongoing infrastructure projects and potential expansions within the healthcare and education sectors could offer job opportunities, broader economic headwinds and agricultural seasonality may continue to dampen growth. Continued monitoring of key economic indicators will be crucial to assess the trajectory of the local labor market.

10 Growing Occupations in Merced (May 2022 data):

  1. Registered Nurses
  2. Software Developers
  3. Truck Drivers
  4. General Laborers
  5. Retail Salespersons
  6. Customer Service Representatives
  7. Elementary School Teachers
  8. Janitors and Cleaners
  9. Farmworkers and Laborers
  10. Construction Laborers

10 Companies Hiring Now in Merced (as of January 30, 2024):

  1. UC Merced
  2. Mercy Medical Center
  3. Merced County Government
  4. Amazon Delivery Station
  5. Hilmar Cheese Company
  6. Sierra-Pacific Industries
  7. Taco Bell
  8. Starbucks
  9. Walmart
  10. Lowe’s