California on path to recovery yet?

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Construction Crew

Is California’s economy getting better? The public perception is that the state’s mired in an economic slump, and truth be told, things aren’t great.

But if you view it over the course of a year, things seem to be improving. The unemployment rate is down a full percentage point, albeit still sitting at 10.8 percent.

Here’s what Steve Levy from the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy wrote to his mailing list this week:

I haven’t written for a while but today’s jobs report caps a week of more positive news.

Today’s jobs report is a positive and hopeful sign for the California economy. 33,900 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped again to a still high 10.8% statewide. For the past two months an average of 17,000 jobs per month were added. The monthly data bounce around and it is better to take a longer term perspective on these trends.

Last week the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that California was one of the fastest growing states for GDP growth in 2011.

Today’s jobs report confirms that California is now outpacing the nation in job growth while reminding us that the recovery is continuing but that unemployment rates will come down only slowly.

California’s job recovery is led by Bay Area tech gains concentrated in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. But the May report shows signs of recovery in Southern California as well led by Orange County and including job growth, finally,  of 1% or more in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

The strongest job growth is in Silicon Valley (the San Jose metro area) with a gain of 3.5% year over year or 31,100 jobs. San Francisco is next among the large metro areas with a gain of 2.8% or 26,800 jobs. The comparable state gain is 1.6% slightly above the 1.4% national gain.

Both Southern California and the Bay Area are reporting higher homes sales and a firming of prices is another piece of hopeful news.

The job gains reflect California’s strength in technology, trade and tourism led by professional, scientific and technical services, wholesale trade and hotels and amusements. Construction jobs are poised to turn up led by new nonresidential and transportation construction and still awaiting an upturn in housing construction.

A further positive sign is seen in the gradual increase in the workforce while at the same time the number of unemployed residents, while still high at just under 2 million has been slowly declining.


Ed Coghlan

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