California Tribal Employment Continues to Soar as Job Growth for the Rest of the State Lags

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California Tribal Employment Continues to Soar as Job Growth for the Rest of the State Lags

June 17, 2003

Tribal governments continue to far outpace all other California private and public sector employers in job growth, registering a 12 percent increase in employment for the year ending May 31, according to state figures.

No other industry with more than 20,000 workers experienced job growth anywhere near the figures posted by California’s tribal governments, according to figures released June 11 by the state Employment Development Department. In fact, virtually all state employers reported a loss of jobs for the year. California tribal governments employ 37,200 workers, according to EDD figures, more than 90 percent of whom are non-Indians.

Statewide employment for May was 14,752,700, according to EDD figures, a drop of 1.1 percent from the 14,988.300 people working at this time last year. The civilian unemployment rate in California for May was 6.3 percent, compared with 5.8 percent nationwide, state figures show.

“California tribal governments are the one bright light in the state’s economic picture,” said Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “Tribal nations are proud to be providing job growth at a time when the state needs it most.”

Indeed, California employers shed 21,500 workers in May, according to government figures, a month which saw the rest of the nation gaining jobs. Job losses in California for the month were the largest since December and mark the fourth consecutive month of payroll declines in the state.

Employment analysts believe California, because of the downtown in the Bay Area technology industry, has become one of the country’s weakest labor markets.

Tribal government economies have for three years led the state in job growth, with employment more than doubling since January 2000, when there were 17,200 workers on tribal payrolls.

The explosion of employment on Indian lands has largely been generated by the expansion of tribal government gaming, which was approved by California voters in separate referendums in 1998 and 2000.

State employment figures can be obtained online at https://www.calmis.ca.gov/htmlfile/subject/indtable.htm.

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