By Steve Levy
Jobs UpdateUploaded: Aug 22, 2015
The July jobs report was issued yesterday by the state Employment Development Department and it was a standout month for job growth in the state and region.
More than 80,000 jobs were added statewide this looks really high and could be revised down a bit next month) and 490,000 for the past 12 months. The average of over 40,000 added jobs per month has reduced the state's above average unemployment rate to 6.2%, the lowest since February 2008 but still above the national 5.3% rate. Job growth has allowed the state unemployment rate to fall from a high of 12.2% allowing many people to reenter the workforce but remains above full employment levels in most areas.
The Bay Area saw an increase of more than 25,000 jobs seasonally adjusted and a gain of over 140,000 jobs in the past 12 months including 60,000 in the San Jose metro area that includes Santa Clara and San Benito counties. Our metro area had a year over year increase of 6% or nearly triple the national 2.1% job growth rate.
There was more good news in the composition of job gains. Nearly all the gains in our metro area were in middle and higher wage industries. Statewide there were gains in construction, manufacturing and the transportation sector?all good sources of middle wage jobs. At the same time jobs in information and professional services surged.
The gains have spread beyond the Bay Area with Southern California, San Diego and (finally) the Sacramento region outpacing national job growth.
Many challenges remain. The state faces a housing shortage and rent and home price increases that far outpace income growth. Housing production, particularly for multi-family units, has picked up though still far below levels needed to dig into the large shortage of units in the Bay Area and across the state created by years of low building levels.
While recent growth has added to middle and high wage jobs, jobs in low wage sectors continue to grow and real wages are below 2007 levels in many occupations.
Infrastructure needs in transportation, water and other areas remain far above current funding levels. Additional housing and infrastructure construction are the most immediate and effective ways to increase middle wage jobs.
State and local revenues are growing and this year's state budget allocated substantial additional funding for education. Still, the growth of retirement benefits for public employees remains a challenge for finding shared responsibility solutions.
The future of California depends on our children, their education and opportunities. The state budget has made progress in funding education with an emphasis on at risk students and the state is exploring ways to reduce the cost of higher education. But these children's success will determine our future and we need to keep them uppermost in our minds.