Saturday, December 30, 2006

California's job market continues to perform reasonably well even as it's affected by the downturn in the housing market

Job market holding up

By Dale Kasler - Bee Staff Writer

Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006
Story appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D1

California's job market continues to perform reasonably well even as it's affected by the downturn in the housing market.

The state's unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point in November to 4.6 percent, state officials said Friday. Payrolls grew by 15,900 jobs during the month, slightly better than average for 2006, said Howard Roth, the state's chief economist.

Construction jobs actually increased across the state in November, defying the recent trends. But construction employment -- which fueled much of California's job growth in 2004 and 2005 -- remains about 1 percent lower than a year ago, acting as something of a drag on the overall job market.

But for the most, part housing's woes "are not really spilling over to other sectors," Roth said.

Sacramento-area unemployment rose four-tenths of a point, to 4.3 percent, although the region added 1,800 payroll jobs.

Much of the job growth was seasonal: retailing, restaurants, hotels and ski resorts.

"A decent month, pretty typical for this time of year," said David Lyons, labor market consultant with the state Employment Development Department.

As with the state, the region's job market, covering Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties, is fairly healthy despite the decline in construction and other housing-related sectors.

"I'm not overly concerned (about housing)," Lyons said. "It's not a free-fall."

Although hospitality and the professional and business services sectors remained the big job creators in Sacramento over the past year, Lyons said an old reliable sector has woken up after a long slumber: state government.

State government has added 3,500 jobs in greater Sacramento in the past year, a gain of 3.4 percent. The entire region has added 13,300 jobs in the past year, or 1.5 percent.

After several years of job freezes and cutbacks, "it reached the point where they couldn't go on without adding staff," Lyons said.

State government employment in Sacramento is still about 2.5 percent lower than it was in March 2002, when it peaked at 109,600 jobs.

Orange County had California's lowest unemployment last month, 3.4 percent. Imperial had the highest, 16.2 percent.

About the writer:

* The Bee's Dale Kasler can be reached at (916) 321-1066 or

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