Bay Area Unemployment Rates Fall to Lowest Levels Since May


  • Hiring bounced back in California in September, with 52,200 jobs created, according to the latest numbers from the state Employment Development Department. August data was revised to 7,700 job losses versus the 8,200 that was previously reported.
  • At 1.7 percent year-over-year job growth, the state again outpaced the national rate of 1.2 percent. Nevertheless, national numbers were impacted by hurricanes in September and are likely to be revised in upcoming months. Over the last year, the state has added 280,300 jobs, and its unemployment rate remained at 5.1 percent in September. The number of employed Californians increased by 113,000 from August and is up 183,000 from last September. The number of unemployed Californian residents was up by 13,000 over the month but down by 37,000 compared with September of last year.
  • Half of the September job gains came from local government, which reflects the return of public school teachers. Other sectors that added positions include trade, transportation and utilities, which was up 13,000 jobs, and other services, up 5,200 jobs. Gains in trade and other services reflect increased consumer spending and should further improve.
  • Other sectors that added jobs in September were information, leisure and hospitality, construction, educational and health services, and financial activities. Most of these industries have shown continued gains throughout the year, with about 2,500 to 3,000 jobs added in each sector in September. While construction employment has grown solidly in 2017, it has slowed some from the year before. Nevertheless, a pickup in construction employment is expected again given the recent unfortunate wildfires across the state. Also, the leisure and hospitality industries, along with the information sector, are showing reversals from weakness in previous months. When not seasonally adjusted, the leisure and hospitality sectors showed larger-than-historical drops in employment between August and September.
  • The professional and business services sectors posted the largest decreases over the month, followed by the manufacturing and mining and logging industries.
  • Both Sonoma and Napa counties showed solid unemployment declines in September. In Napa County, the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, down from a revised 3.8 percent in both August and September 2016. In Sonoma County, the unemployment rate was also 3.2 percent, down from a revised 3.9 percent in August and 3.7 percent from one year earlier. Both counties were at the lowest unemployment rates since May of this year. Sonoma County gained a solid number of manufacturing jobs in September, though on an annual basis the sector is down by 1,600 positions, the only industry to lose jobs year over year. Napa County posted monthly job gains in government, reflecting teachers’ returns, as well as manufacturing. The trade and transportation and leisure and hospitality sectors saw job losses. On an annual basis, Napa County added 3,100 jobs. While these are September figures, we will closely examine the impact of the recent wildfires on October’s job numbers.
  • San Francisco and San Mateo counties posted an overall increase of 100 jobs between August and September, with the gains led by seasonal increases in the education sector, both public and private. Private educational and health services showed the most notable gains, at 3,200 jobs. Losses were recorded in the professional and business services sectors, which is mostly due to the decrease in computer-systems design and related services industries. The leisure and hospitality sectors lost a solid number of jobs from August but are up 18,900 jobs on an annual basis. The gain was driven by the performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries, which expanded by 2,400 jobs, a 34.8 percent year-over-year gain. Professional and business services, the only major industry that experienced a decline, lost 4,900 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent in September in the combined two counties, which is a solid decline from 3.3 percent in August. Unemployment in San Francisco and San Mateo counties is at the lowest rate since May of this year.
  • The East Bay similarly benefited from a gain in public and private education jobs, followed by construction in September. Private educational and health services maintained the 74th consecutive month of job gains. Also, on an annual basis, strength remained in food services and drinking establishments, as well as construction. The East Bay’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in September, down from 4.4 percent in August.
  • While the unemployment rate also dropped in the San Jose metropolitan area to 3.3 percent, there were 900 fewer jobs in September than there were in August, though numbers were up by 14,100 year over year. On a monthly basis, the professional, business services, and information sectors trimmed jobs. The information sector decline was larger than its prior 10-year average at this time of the year. As with the rest of the state, most of the gain was led by public and private school jobs.
  • In Los Angeles County, September employment was similarly driven by seasonal increases in the public and private education services sector, which added a combined 38,700 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities — including warehousing — also added a solid number of jobs, followed the by the professional and business services sectors, which led with increases in employment services. The construction sector lost jobs in September, though it saw an above-average increase on an annual basis. The educational and health services sectors posted the largest year-over-year job increases, with most of the growth in health care and social assistance.

(Promotional photo: iStock/anyaberkut)

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.

Shared with permission from the Pacific Union Blog

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