Gulf and California job growth slowed sharply in November to its lowest level since the start of the year, raising more worrisome signals of an economic recovery from COVID-19.
The weak performance reflects a nationwide trend in which the United States posted the smallest monthly employment growth in a year last month.
The Bay Area added 8,900 jobs last month, a sharp slowdown from 22,500 jobs in October and the smallest increase since January, the month the nine-county region lost jobs, the state’s Employment Development Department said Friday.
Santa Clara County lost its job last month, resulting in a 700 job cut in the South Bay. Santa Clara County last saw a monthly job cut in January 2021. The East Bay area has 2,500 jobs and the San Francisco-San Mateo region has 5,800 jobs, according to EDD. All numbers have been seasonally adjusted.
With weak performance in line with that of the Bay Area, California added 45,700 jobs in November. That’s less than half of the jobs the state received in October, according to an EDD report. The same pattern emerged earlier this month across the country: The 210,000 jobs created in the US in November were well below the 546,000 jobs added in October.
One of the few bright spots in California, the statewide unemployment rate improved to 6.9% in November from 7.3% in October, the most significant decline in months.
“California has created nearly 1 million jobs since February, an unprecedented achievement for the state’s economic recovery,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a prepared statement Friday. “The state continues to recover with confidence.”
Despite the governor’s rosy portrayal, California’s unemployment rate ranks last in the nation, according to a WalletHub analysis.
Worse, California is lagging far behind its main rivals. In November, the unemployment rate was 4.5% in Florida, 4.7% in Arizona and Washington, 5.1% in Colorado, 5.2% in Texas, and 6.6% in New York and Nevada.
Since March 2020, when a large-scale business shutdown began to combat the spread of the coronavirus, labor markets in California and the Bay Area have struggled to regain their ground.
In the first two months of shutdowns last year, the Bay Area lost a staggering 638,600 jobs. From May 2020 to November 2021, 377,200 jobs were created in the region from nine districts. This means that only 59.1% of lost jobs were recovered in the Bay Area, according to the news organization’s analysis of employment trends.
California was shocked by the loss of 2.71 million jobs in March and April last year. From May 2020 to the last month, the state increased 1.89 million positions – 69.6 percent of what it lost.
In contrast, the United States recovered 82.5% of jobs lost in March and April 2020.
Among the top three regions of the Bay Area, Santa Clara reclaimed 65.1% of lost jobs, the San Francisco-San Mateo region 54.4%, and the East Bay region 54.1% of lost jobs, the news organization estimates. … EDD reports show.
“The Bay Area has had good months and bad months,” said Russell Hancock, president of the Silicon Valley joint venture. “As the economy restructures and as people decide how they want to go back, it will be uneven.”
However, some green shoots can be found in the rocky economic landscape, according to Stephen Levy, director of California’s Center for Continuous Economic Research in Palo Alto.
“Both the state and the Bay Area have outpaced the nation in job growth,” Levy said.
For the year ended November, total nonfarm jobs increased 4.7% in the Bay Area and 5.1% in California, and 4.1% in the US, according to state and federal labor statistics. …
The Bay Area tech sector was robust in November, with tech jobs growing by 4,900 in East Bay, 4,600 in San Francisco-San Mateo County, and 1,500 in County of Santa Clara.
However, retail sales declined. Already hit hard by the pandemic, retailers have cut jobs by 200 in San Francisco and San Mateo, 300 in East Bay and 500 in Santa Clara County. Across the state, retailers have cut 8,600 jobs.
“The highly publicized burglary-for-purpose likely limited hiring to retail chains,” said Mark Whitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo.
The new omicron variant could create more dips for the California and Bay Area job markets.
“We are increasingly concerned about the California economy in light of the recent surge in COVID infections associated with omicron variants,” Witner said.
Uneven job growth suggests the Bay Area and California will not recover lost jobs for a significant period, warned Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon Economics and UC Riverside Forecast Center.
“The strong growth in employment continues, but we are not adding jobs that would seriously affect what was lost as a result of the pandemic,” Osman said in a prepared statement. “We are unlikely to see a full recovery of jobs in California in 2022.”