One of the least recognized employment dynamics in California is the enormous job creation and destruction that occurs reach month, in good times and bad. The monthly unemployment rate states the net number of job gains or losses, which usually number in the tens of thousands. But beneath the surface, each month hundreds of thousands of jobs are being added or subtracted.

For example. for the three months of January-March 2008, the state lost 86,698 jobs according to the net monthly employment numbers. In fact, during this three-month period, 883,486 jobs were added and 970,184 were destroyed, for a net of -86.698.

What has been happening to job creation/destruction during the current recession?

The job creation/destruction numbers are generated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the most recent numbers are for the third quarter of 2008, the months of July, August and September. This was a period when job layoffs were starting to pick up force, but before the enormous job shedding of the period October 2008-February 2009.

The job destruction numbers show 968,432 jobs eliminated in California in the three month period. This is by no means the highest three month job destruction figure—throughout 2001 and the first half of 2002, job losses regularly totaled over 1 million jobs per quarter. It is, though, consistent with the media characterization of the period as one of private firms disappearing, and employers cutting back.

Yet, during the same three month period, 823,743 jobs were created. Even as the California economy was going backwards, and consumers were sharply reducing spending, Californians were out there starting businesses or expanding.

The numbers for the first quarter of the year, when the greatest job losses occurred (the state lost a net 119,000 jobs in February alone) have not been released. But even in this first quarter, at the worst period so far of job loss, we’ll likely see over 750,000 jobs (and more likely over 800,000 jobs) created.

My family and I were in Napa for the past week. We’ve been coming here for a week each summer for the past 23 years. Businesses we’ve seen for years have disappeared, or are just trying to hold on. Even Copia, the centerpiece of Napa downtown redevelopment that has sought and received so much publicity is shuttered—at least temporarily.

Yet, in these bleak economic times, there are new businesses: an art and sculpture gallery on Monticello, a boutique hotel in downtown Napa,.a frozen yogurt store opened in early July in nearby Sonoma.

It is this entrepreneurism, this willingness to start an enterprise in hard times (often against all economic logic) that keeps the California economy afloat.