Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Survey: This is the Place to Find a Job

Survey: This is the Place to Find a Job
Hirings, Not Layoffs, are Planned in Solano, Napa Counties in Next Few Months
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

The percentage of employers in Solano and Napa counties planning to hire people in the next few months is the highest of any area in the state, a new survey found.

Eighty percent of Solano and Napa employers surveyed plan to hire new workers and none plan layoffs in the next few months, said Sherrie Phillipi of The Manpower, Inc. which conducted the quarterly survey. Most employers surveyed plan small workforce increases, but it's a sign of upward momentum, she said.

Most of California expected about 30 to 50 percent net employment increases. That trend changes at Contra Costa County and most every Bay Area city north of it.

At 73 percent, Contra Costa and San Rafael joined Solano/Napa with higher numbers, though 14 percent of the San Rafael employers surveyed expected to lay people off, for a net gain of 60 percent.

"Looking at the East Bay, Contra Costa County is at 70 percent, so that's where the labor market is beginning to break up," Phillipi said. "From there and into the North Bay, this is where the market is starting to free up for hiring."

The Solano/Napa area's diverse economy is playing a role in its increasingly rosy employment picture, Phillipi said.

"A lot of businesses are springing up in Vacaville. There's been a rejuvenation of the medical and some warehousing in Vallejo and the Fairfield industrial park is starting to thrive," she said. "There's a lot of movement happening at this time."

The Manpower figures are in line with a recent national survey that found hiring increased across the economy in February, with employers adding nearly a quarter-million jobs in the biggest boost in three months. Analysts say this has nudged the unemployment rate higher, as more people restart job searches with a renewed hope of success.

Unemployment rates are determined by those actively seeking work.

Nationally, employers expanded payrolls by 243,000 jobs in February - better than expected and an improvement over January's 170,000.

Construction, retail, financial services, health care and education were among the industries seeing national employment gains last month. That eclipsed weakness in manufacturing, mostly reflecting job losses in the struggling automotive sector.

Brighter job prospects propelled people into the labor market, however, bumping up the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent in February. Still, job seekers face challenges, with the average time the 7.2 million unemployed spent searching for work in February being 17.6 weeks, up from 16.8 weeks in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

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