The Bay Area job market flexed its impressive muscles again in the first month of 2019, led by a surge in Santa Clara County, state labor officials reported Friday.
Employers in the Bay Area added 10,900 jobs during January, and the nine-county region now has a record 4.04 million payroll jobs, according to seasonally adjusted figures released by the state’s Employment Development Department.
“This is very good growth,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.
In the greater Bay Area, Santa Cruz County added 700 jobs and Monterey County gained 500 positions, the survey showed.
“The tech-heavy sectors are leading the way in the Bay Area and statewide,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research with Beacon Economics and UC Riverside.
Plus, the boom in high tech is being fueled by much more than software, internet and cloud-related services. Hardware firms also are adding jobs in a big way, he said.
“There is a huge amount of strength in terms of manufacturing computer and electronic products in the Bay Area and statewide,” Kleinhenz said. “People say we don’t manufacture anything in tech, but that’s not the case.”
The boom wasn’t as evident across the state. California added a paltry 3,000 jobs during January, and the statewide unemployment rate worsened to 4.2 percent, up from five months of all-time record lows of 4.1 percent.
“Even with this modest 3,000-job gain, we continue to be in an extraordinary period in California employment,” said Michael Bernick, a Milken Institute research fellow and former director of the state EDD.
The United States employment report for February was released Friday, showing an increase of 20,000 jobs nationwide, and 3.8 percent jobless rate down from 4 percent in January, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The February national employment picture represented a significant drop from January, when 311,000 nonfarm jobs were added nationwide, the agency reported.
The timing of the national report is out of sync with California and the Bay Area because EDD officials delay the January figures so the state government can compile annual revisions for employment trends in prior years.
Despite the feeble upswing in statewide hiring in January, a sluggish first report during the administration of California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, plenty of encouraging signs exist for the Golden State, according to the governor’s office.
“This sixth consecutive month of job growth is more modest than the previous months, reflecting an economy operating at near-full employment, or capacity,” said Lenny Mendonca, director of the governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
The industry breakdown for Santa Clara County’s job growth showed the tech sector led the way with 3,300 jobs, according to an estimate of the EDD’s seasonally adjusted figures that was compiled by Beacon Economics. The county also added 1,000 hotel, restaurant, arts and entertainment jobs; 700 finance, insurance and real estate positions; and 600 retail jobs. However, the county also lost 2,000 construction jobs.
The East Bay’s strongest industries were health care, which gained 1,400 positions; finance, insurance and real estate, up 600; and construction, which added 500 jobs. The East Bay lost 200 tech jobs, according to the Beacon analysis.
The San Francisco-San Mateo region added 2,000 health care jobs, 1,700 tech positions and 700 construction jobs, the Beacon assessment determined. However, that metro region also lost 700 wholesale trade jobs in January.
Santa Clara County, along with the San Francisco-San Mateo region, are expected to continue to produce out-sized gains, opined Kleinhenz.
“Those counties are punching above their weight and have been for a while,” Kleinhenz said.
The employment upswing in the Bay Area also bodes well for ongoing strong hiring throughout 2019, experts suggested.
“This is good news for the Bay Area and great for people who want a job and have been left out of the economic recovery up to now,” Levy said.
What’s more, the sturdy beginning for 2019 bodes well for a strong job market throughout the year.
“In the coming months, I feel optimistic about job growth in the Bay Area and the prospects for filling those jobs because the growth of the labor force is very strong” in the region, Kleinhenz said. “As companies have a need for additional workers, the pipeline is there in the Bay Area.”