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Job boom: South Bay leads big Bay Area employment gains in July

Screenshot 2022-08-31 170148

Job boom: South Bay leads big Bay Area employment gains in July
Santa Clara County has now regained all of its COVID-linked job losses
— and more

By George Avalos | Bay Area News Group | Published: August 19th, 2022

A hiring boom fueled big job gains in July in the Bay Area and California, a surge that helped drive the statewide unemployment rate to 3.9%, the lowest level ever measured, state labor officials reported Friday.

The statewide economy is in recovery mode from the mammoth employment setbacks that erased 2.76 million California jobs in March and April of 2020. California has regained 97.3% of the jobs the state lost over those two months.

“California is getting very close to fully recovering all the jobs it lost due to the pandemic,” said Taner Osman, Beacon Economics research manager. “If we repeat this month’s job gains next month, we will reach that milestone.”

The Bay Area added 20,400 jobs during July, a report released Friday by the state Employment Development Department showed, with Santa Clara County and the San Francisco-San Mateo region and the East Bay providing the employment propellant.

Santa Clara County added 7,000 jobs to lead the nine-county region’s job upswing in July, followed by the San Francisco-San Mateo area’s gain of 6,700 jobs and the East Bay’s increase of 4,500 positions, according to the EDD. All of the numbers were adjusted for seasonal volatility.

“This report is very good news,” Steve Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said in an interview Friday.

Robust gains in the Bay Area tech sector drove much of the Bay Area uptick in July — although layoff notices filed with the state EDD raised the specter that some economic gremlins have begun to haunt tech companies.

Malwarebytes, Shift Technologies, Robinhood Markets and Rivian Automotive have notified the state labor agency that they have embarked on cutbacks that would jettison a combined 453 jobs in the Bay Area, according to official notices filed with the EDD.

California added 84,800 jobs in July, the most the state has added in a single month since February of this year, the EDD reported.

The state’s July unemployment rate is an all-time record low and an improvement from the 4.2% rate in June.

“Californians are getting back to work with record low unemployment,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday in prepared comments regarding the monthly employment report. “We have historic (state budget) reserves and we’re putting money back in people’s pockets.”

With the July job gains, Santa Clara County has regained 97% of the jobs it lost in March 2020 and April 2020, two months of historic job losses at the start of coronavirus-linked business shutdowns ordered by the government to combat the spread of the deadly virus, this news organization’s analysis of the EDD figures shows.

During those two months, the South Bay lost a jaw-dropping 161,100 jobs. But from May 2020 through July 2022, the South Bay gained 156,300 jobs, the EDD reports reveal.

The Bay Area has regained 88% of its 650,600 lost jobs, San Francisco-San Mateo has recovered 85.8% of the 186,800 jobs it lost, and the East Bay has recouped 89.6% of the 198,300 jobs it lost during those two brutal months in 2020.

Despite the encouraging report, some experts say it’s entirely possible that California and the Bay Area could topple into a protracted economic slump.

“The Bay Area and California economies are not yet in a formal recession,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist with Bank of the West. “We would need to see widespread job losses and rising unemployment rates” before a Bay Area recession materializes, Anderson added.

California is headed toward a major slump or outright recession, Sung Won Sohn, a professor of finance and economics with Loyola Marymount University, warned Friday in an assessment of the jobs report.

“The Federal Reserve’s resolve to fight inflation and the resulting interest rates are hurting real estate and sales of big-ticket items,” Sohn wrote in the report.

The tech sector’s job gains were widespread in the Bay Area in July, according to a Beacon Economics and UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting assessment of the EDD report.

The Bay Area added 11,300 tech jobs in July, this news organization’s analysis of the figures provided by Beacon and UC Riverside show.

These included increases in tech jobs of 5,200 in the San Francisco-San Mateo region, 4,000 in the South Bay and 2,000 in the East Bay, the Beacon figures show.

This also means that the tech sector accounted for 55% of all the jobs gained in the Bay Area in July.

“Tech hiring appears to have rebounded solidly in July, which provided a boost to California’s overall job growth,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo Bank. “This is especially true in the Bay Area.”

The jobs upswing in the tech industry defies the drumbeat of prognostications from some pundits that Silicon Valley’s economy is about to implode and that tech companies have decamped to other states and regions.

“Tech is doing fine now,” said Patrick Kallerman, vice president of research for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “For all of the warnings about the tech industry going away and the innovation ecosystem crumbling, the Bay Area is doing better than a lot of other regions.”

Even with the improvement, shuttered Bay Area restaurants and stores — and even the wholesale conversion of some struggling retail sites to entirely different uses — remain a reminder that some jobs have vanished, said Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a local think tank.

“It’s important for our region to focus on the quality of the jobs and the quality of life we’re providing for our residents,” Hancock said. “But this is a terrific trend, and most places would be envious.”

Full Article by George Avalos: https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/08/19/job-boom-south-bay-big-bay-area-july-gain-edd-covid-economy-tech/