San Diego County unemployment ticked up in March but annual job growth remained steady, state labor officials reported Friday.
March’s jobless rate was 3.7 percent, representing about 58,000 people out of work in San Diego County. That is up from 3.5 percent last month, and 3.4 percent a year ago. San Diego County still had a lower unemployment rate than the nationwide average of 3.9 percent, as well as the California average of 4.6 percent.
The region added 20,100 jobs in the last 12 months, with education and health services leading the gains. Year-over-year job growth is down from some points last year — like in May 2018, when annual growth was 32,100 jobs— but it is still high compared to even a few years ago when increases were stuck around 16,000.
Jerry Sanders, CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said even though there is worry about the economy slowing, the job growth numbers show the fundamentals of the local economy are still strong.
“We’re well above full employment now, and to still be adding jobs is pretty amazing,” he said.
In the past year, the most new jobs were created in educational and health services with 7,700 new positions. Jobs in the category include various educational services, health care assistants at hospitals and residential care facilities, teacher assistants and school administrators.
Other industries to experience notable growth were professional and business services with 4,700 jobs; government with 4,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality with 3,000 jobs; and manufacturing with 3,000 jobs.
Trade, transportation and utilities lost 2,800 jobs. Positions in the category include warehousing and storage, health and personal care stores, motor vehicle parts dealers and grocery stores.
Genine Wilson, Pacific region vice president of staffing agency Kelly Services, said there is still a skills gap as more and more jobs are added. She said employers are struggling to fill highly skilled jobs, such as computer programmers and cybersecurity technicians, and middle-skilled jobs, such as electricians and machinists.
“There are just not enough people to take some of the specialized jobs,” she said. “We are still dealing with nearly full employment. We can keep (job) posting all we want but we’re still trying to catch up with the demand and skills.”
Occupations with the most job advertisements in San Diego County in March were software developers with 1,459 postings, said state labor data.
Some of San Diego’s biggest tech-heavy firms also had the most job advertisements. Northrop Grumman had 562 open positions, Qualcomm had 344, General Atomics had 289, Booz Allen Hamilton had 273 and Illumina had 258.
California has seen 108 months of expansion, adding 238,500 jobs in the last 12 months. The largest job increases (65,900 positions) were in professional and business services. Jobs in the category include legal services, architects, engineers and sciencerelated jobs.
In March, the state added 24,500 jobs with most in construction. More than 4,000 jobs came from San Diego County, with government hiring leading the pack.
State labor officials do not seasonally adjust jobless rates for individual counties, but the unadjusted numbers show San Diego County’s 3.7 percent rate was one of the lowest in the region. The jobless rate in Los Angeles County was 4.4 percent, 4.3 percent in San Bernardino County, 3.2 percent in Orange County and 4.7 percent in Riverside County.
— San Diego Union Tribune
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