California “Marches” to more job growth

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Competing skyscraper projects in Los Angeles (left) and San Francisco should result in some construction job gains (Photo Credit: AC Martin Partners (left) and Transbay Project rendering)

California continues to outpace the rest of the country when it comes to creating new jobs.

In March, the state created 25,500 jobs, following a revised increase of 37,400 jobs in February. For the past 12 months, job levels in the state have risen by 2.0 percent compared to the national increase of 1.4 percent.

And the positive trend isn’t just limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, the big story at the regional level is the strong gain in jobs levels in Southern California led by San Diego County and Los Angeles County, which experienced month-to-month gains in motion picture production.

“Southern California’s counties have experienced increased momentum since the middle of last year, enabling the local economies to chip away at unemployment rates that are still well above normal,” said Robert A. Kleinhenz, Ph.D., chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research, LAEDC.

Too many people in California are still out of work and there’s much to be done to improve the jobs picture, but these gains are slowly reducing the state’s still high unemployment rate to 9.4 percent, the lowest since December 2008. California now ranks third highest tied with Mississippi and below Nevada and Illinois.

“There is no question now that California is emerging again as an economic growth leader led by traditional strengths in technology, trade, tourism, agriculture and the application of creativity to the design of goods and services in demand worldwide,” according to Steve Levy, head of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

The news comes as Californians are gathering together in regions around the state to discuss ways to continue to improve both job creation in California and the state’s ability to compete in the global economy, a particular point of emphasis given Governor Brown’s recently highly publicized trip to China. The first regional gathering was in San Diego earlier this month, where access to capital for smaller companies was a major topic. Meetings in San Luis Obispo and the San Joaquin Valley are scheduled this week. (Here’s a complete list of dates for the regional meetings)

When the forums are concluded in June, the data will be used to prepare the agenda for the second annual California Economic Summit which will be held in Los Angeles in November.

Here’s more info on California’s March employment numbers:

The state’s gains included increases in construction (+3,800) as the sector continues to rebound on the strength of an improved housing market and transportation infrastructure spending. Levy believes the construction sector has the potential to make this a very strong year for the California economy if national and world events do not prevent this.

Recently a story on Bill Watkins at California Lutheran University has gotten press attention because he claimed that the state’s population growth was on a downward trend and could soon become negative. While the state growth has slowed, this analysis departs from recent population and, more importantly, job growth data.

“It is hard to imagine a state adding 300,000 plus jobs a year as about to lose population even if you disregard the active recovery in housing and the new immigration laws being discussed,” Levy added.  


Ed Coghlan

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