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Bay Area adds jobs at brisk pace in August, best gain in five months


Bay Area adds jobs at brisk pace in August, best gain in five months

By GEORGE AVALOS | Bay Area News Group | PUBLISHED: September 17, 2021 at 8:19 a.m. | UPDATED: September 20, 2021 at 12:15 p.m.

The Bay Area in August posted its strongest job gains in five months, adding nearly 20,000 positions and raising hopes that the region might be turning the corner on coronavirus-linked economic woes.

The nine-county area added 19,800 jobs in August, led by big gains in the East Bay and Santa Clara County with sturdy increases in the San Francisco-San Mateo metro area, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

“This is encouraging, but I would have expected this to happen sooner,” said Patrick Kallerman, vice president of research for the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute. “The Bay Area still has a long way to go to catch up to its peer metro regions in terms of job recovery.”

The East Bay added 6,900 jobs in August, while Santa Clara County gained 5,600 positions and the San Francisco-San Mateo region increased its job totals by 4,300, the EDD report shows.

“It was a pretty good month despite the delta variant,” said Jeffrey Michael, executive director of the University of the Pacific’s Stockton-based Center for Business and Policy Research. “The August jobs numbers show a big boost from the reopening of schools.”

That reopening might enable additional hiring of on-site staff personnel that wouldn’t be needed when students were in remote classes and schools were shuttered.  Plus, some workers might be able to return to their jobs now that their children are back in the classroom.

California added 104,300 jobs last month. In contrast to the Bay Area, the state’s August pace was slower than its July gains of 113,200 jobs. The statewide and local metro area numbers were all adjusted for seasonal variations.

“California continues to lead the nation’s economic recovery, creating 44 percent of the nation’s new jobs in August and ranking third in the nation in the rate of job growth this year,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.

The statewide unemployment rate in August was 7.5%, a slight improvement from 7.6% during July.

“These 104,300 new jobs, the fifth time this year of six-figure job growth, represent new paychecks for Californians and new employees on payroll for businesses,” Newsom said in a prepared release.

Despite the governor’s statements, California and the Bay Area remain mired in a deep employment deficit as a result of catastrophic job losses that occurred early in the pandemic during government-ordered business shutdowns to combat the coronavirus.

The Bay Area lost 638,600 jobs during March 2020 and April 2020 and the nine-county region has recovered slightly more than half — 51.6% — of the jobs lost during those two months.

Among the Bay Area’s three main urban centers, Santa Clara County has recovered its lost jobs more quickly than the East Bay and the San Francisco-San Mateo metro area.

Santa Clara County has regained 55.6% of the 153,600 jobs it lost during March 2020 and April 2020, the East Bay has recouped 50.1% of its 196,200 lost jobs and the San Francisco-San Mateo region has recaptured 45% of the 187,500 jobs it lost, this news organization’s analysis of EDD figures shows.

California lost 2.71 million jobs during those two months and has recovered 62.1% of the positions that vanished. To erase its initial COVID-linked losses, California’s economy needs to regain another 1.03 million jobs. But both California and the Bay Area trail far behind the United States, which has regained 76.2% of the nation’s lost jobs.

“We still have more work to do in regaining those jobs lost to the pandemic, but this is promising progress for California’s economic recovery,” Newsom said.

The Bay Area’s recent  job gains are being fueled by increases in hotels and restaurants, as well as the tech sector, this news organization’s analysis of the EDD figures shows.

Over the one-year period ended in August, tech companies added 12,300 jobs in Santa Clara County, 8,600 jobs in the East Bay and 20,400 jobs in the San Francisco-San Mateo region. The hotel and restaurant sectors added 6,300 jobs in Santa Clara County, 11,000 in the East Bay and 8,600 in the San Francisco-San Mateo metro area during that same period.

Multiple factors could help buoy the Bay Area’s job market and economy in the coming months, said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist with the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“Positive forces for continued job growth are record levels of venture capital funding, high vaccination rates and low COVID per-capita cases that are allowing people resume more normal activities,” Levy said.

Kallerman agrees that progress against the coronavirus could enable the job market to gain some long-term traction.

“We may be finally turning the corner,” Kallerman said.

Despite the pattern of improved hiring in recent  months, a full rebound remains distant, warned Scott Anderson, chief economist with Bank of the West.

“California and the Bay Area job recovery continued at a better than expected clip last month,” Anderson said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but there is still a long road ahead to a full jobs recovery from this pandemic.”

Full article by George Avalos: https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/09/17/bay-area-jobs-brisk-pace-august-best-gain-five-months-economy-covid/