New Data Shows A Lost Decade For California In Employment And Energy Use

California released its latest labour Market figures today. And, I see also that EIA Washington has updated detailed energy production and use data for California too, through 2008. First, let’s look at the chart which compares oil production in California to total oil product use, in trillion BTU. Unsurprisingly, those killer high petrol prices in the first half of 2008 and then the subsequent economic collapse in the second half took more than 200 trillion BTU of total oil product demand off-line. In just one year, California oil product consumption reset itself all the way back, to 2001. | see: California: Oil Production vs Total Oil Product Use in Trillion BTU ’81-’08:


Continuing in a similar vein, the total number of employed Californians has also been reset back to the early part of last decade. As of September 2010, California employment at 15.975 million people almost perfectly matches figures last seen in July, of 2000. The chart looks bad enough, but when you consider California’s population grew by at least 4.5 million people during those 10 years, you can understand how the state now clocks in with a 12.4% unemployment rate. (And that’s just the conservative figure). | see:California Employment in Millions 2000 – 2010:


From the highs of 2007, total California employment is down about 6.5%. And, 2008 total oil product consumption compared to 2007 is down about 5.5%. There is no question that 2009 energy data from EIA Washington will show another notable fall, in California energy use. Meanwhile, as we can see from the labour market data, there is no economic recovery occurring in America’s largest state.

— Gregor


Data Notes:

Energy use and production in BTU is pulled from the recently updated SEDS data, provided by EIA Washington. I used to compose the production data myself, converting barrels into BTU, but the EIA is now more regularly providing that data in an easier format. BTU is of course used as the unit of account to handle consumption, for purposes of comparison to production.

California labour Market data is pulled from the labour Force and Unemployment Datapage at See the section titled:  Seasonally-Adjusted labour Force Data:Monthly – 1990-current.

Further Reading: “The U.S. economy is now substantially less vulnerable to rapid changes in patterns of oil production, consumption, and trade than it was four decades ago.” – from Energy Security – An Agenda for Research, Michael A Levi, Council on Foreign Relations, June 2010.

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