bernicklabordayWe arrive at Labor Day 2015, with a much different story line in California than previous Labor Days.

Four years ago, our Labor Day 2011 posting, entitled the Jobs Perplex, looked at the slow pace of job growth of the Great Recession recovery. Then the Perplex was why job growth was slower than previous recoveries. One factor discussed: the runaway growth of the government benefit rolls, and replacement of employment with government benefits.

Today, the job growth dynamic is much different than 2011. The chart above (click to enlarge) was prepared by economist Brandon Hooker of the state Employment Development Department. As it shows, since July 2011, the pace of job growth has quickened, with the state gaining 338,300 jobs between July 2011 and July 2012, and then over 450,000 jobs (over 3% rate of growth) in each of the next three years.

At the time, Labor Day 2011, several state policies to promote job growth were being promoted by the Governor and legislature, including a sales tax exemption for purchase of manufacturing equipment and expanding the employer tax credit. These probably had some impact. But by far main driver of job growth in California since 2011 has been what it always has been: hundreds of thousands of private sector entrepreneurs, drawn to live and work in California and abetted by California’s physical resources and human capital.

The Jobs Perplex in 2015 still has a little to do with creating enough jobs. Our confidence in continued strong job growth is no longer what it was before the Great Recession.

But mainly the Jobs Perplex in California 2015 has shifted from a concern about the pace of job creation to concern about the quality of jobs, more specifically about the security and pay levels, about Californians working harder for less money, about the lack of confidence in an employed future, on an individual, if not collective, basis. These are the issues you hear from legislators and legislative staff in Sacramento, from workforce practitioners, from job coaches and counselors.

To an extent, you can say that these issues arise from our successes in the past few years, at least in the number of new jobs. Yet, at the same time, they are not false issues. Each of us will differ with the level of insecurity we accept and even desire in our job situation. But for at least a significant number of us, greater and greater emphasis on networking and movement and job change is not a condition we look forward to.

Not that this is unique to California. Our current Jobs Perplex is similar to that of other state economies and in fact to the other developed economies of Western Europe and Asia. It is a worldwide employment dynamic, which doesn’t make it any easier to address.