Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Solano Beats Trend, Scores Jobs

Solano Beats Trend, Scores Jobs
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

The state's jobs are moving inland, away from the coast - with Solano County being one notable exception, a new study found.

The number of new jobs created in Solano, Napa and Sonoma counties grew at a significantly faster pace than in the rest of the Bay Area's coastal counties, said Alissa Anderson Garcia, an analyst for the California Budget Project, which conducted the study.

Between 1990 and 2005, the study found the number of jobs in Solano County increased by about a third - very high for the state's coastal region, of which the county is considered a part, Garcia said.

"Compared to the other coastal counties overall, Solano County's 32.9 percent job growth during that period is on the high end," she said. "Job growth in the county was slower than in the inland counties but much faster than the rest of the coastal region."

Inland, jobs grew by nearly 50 percent while in coastal areas they grew by just 9.6 percent and in San Francisco, the number of jobs actually declined by nearly 9 percent during the same period, Garcia added.

By comparison, Sonoma County saw the number of jobs grow by nearly 34 percent and jobs in Napa County grew by a whopping 46.7 percent, she said.

It's important to note, however, that job growth percentage doesn't necessarily reflect a large number of new jobs, said Sean Snaith, former director of the Business Forecasting Center of Stockton's University of the Pacific.

"When you start with a small number of jobs, it doesn't take adding many new ones to create a large percentage change," he said.

The largest number of new jobs in Solano County were in the trade, transportation and utilities category, the study shows.

"Mostly, the job growth was driven by retail, and, mostly, that's related to population growth," Garcia said.

Construction and the education and health services industries, respectively, rounded out the top three job-gaining categories, locally, she said.

Solano Economic Development Corporation President Mike Amman, said the findings make perfect sense, based on the county's location between major employment regions.

"We're in the middle, and that's certainly part of it," Amman said. "Long term, Sonoma won't be able to grow much more, because of the tough congestion on 101. Southern Napa and American Canyon have some opportunity to continue growing. And I think Solano will just continue to grow because of our access to Sacramento, San Francisco and the East Bay."

Amman said he expects Solano County's population and the number of jobs here to continue growing.

It's an opinion Snaith shares.

"Solano County is on a major transportation artery in and out of the Bay Area, and with comparatively affordable housing, it will continue to outpace the other local regions going forward," said Snaith, now with the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

"It's like a prize fight," he said. "The first punch is housing, and the jobs associated with building, selling and maintaining them. The second punch is that once the people live in the homes, there's follow-on growth. People need dry cleaners, divorce lawyers, retail shops and these creates jobs."

Basically, he said, jobs grow where the affordable housing is.

"I think Solano County will continue being the beneficiary of a long-term trend that is pushing people out of the Bay Area in search of more affordable housing," Snaith said.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive