The Bay Area job market continues to race ahead, bolstered by big employment gains last month in the East Bay and smaller increases in the South Bay and San Francisco areas, state labor officials reported Friday.
The East Bay added 2,400 jobs, the San Francisco-San Mateo region gained 1,000 and Santa Clara County added 200 jobs, according to a monthly report from the state’s Employment Development Department. Those numbers helped the Bay Area post a gain of 5,700 jobs last month. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal variations.
The Bay Area now has topped 4 million payroll jobs for two months in a row, extending an employment boom that has chalked up job gains in the nine-county region for 17 consecutive months, the employment department figures show.
One trend has clearly emerged this year, even with the South Bay’s gain of fewer jobs in September compared with other parts of the Bay Area: Santa Clara County’s economy has galloped far ahead of the nine-county region’s two other major urban centersduring the last 12 months.
“Santa Clara County is the high-flying part of the Bay Area,” said Robert Kleinhenz, an economist and executive director of research with Beacon Economics. “The South Bay has a remarkable job market.”
Over the one-year period that ended in September, total payroll jobs grew by a hefty 3.7 percent in Santa Clara County.
“There is a bit of a Gold Rush mentality in Santa Clara County,” said Mark Vitner, a managing director and senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank. “People come to Silicon Valley from all over the country to seek their fortunes in the tech industry.”
The South Bay posted a much faster pace of employment growth than the 2 percent in California and 1.9 percent in the East Bay, San Francisco-San Mateo region and the United States during the same 12 months.
“We know Santa Clara County is an expensive place to live, but it is a place where people are highly compensated,” Kleinhenz said. “Even though the growth in tech jobs in the Bay Area isn’t as strong as it was in recent years, we are still seeing some nice increases all around the Bay Area in terms of tech jobs.”
The technology industry added 700 positions in Santa Clara County, but most of those gains were offset by job losses in other industries, including educational services. Tech added 1,200 jobs in the East Bay and 200 in the San Francisco-San Mateo region during September, according to seasonally adjusted estimates provided to this news organization by Beacon Economics and UC Riverside.
Other strong industries in September, the Beacon analysis showed: Retailing gained added 800 jobs in the East Bay, health care employers added 1,200 jobs, and hotels and restaurants added 900 jobs in the San Francisco metro area. Construction companies increased their payrolls by 300 positions in the South Bay.
California added 13,200 jobs during September, and the statewide jobless rate reached a record low of 4.1 percent, the lowest unemployment rate for the Golden State since 1976, according to the EDD.
Unemployment rates in the Bay Area’s three largest urban centers were all under 3 percent, the Beacon-UC Riverside analysis showed.
The September jobless rate was 2.9 percent in the East Bay and 2.2 percent in the San Francisco-San Mateo region and are, in both cases, unchanged from August. The Santa Clara County unemployment rate was 2.5 percent, an improvement from 2.6 percent the month before. The rates in the three regions all matched record lows.
The ultra-low jobless rates are a key indicator that the Bay Area is effectively at full employment and that the great majority of employers have packed their payrolls with essentially every worker they can find.
“Companies have signaled that they want to hire thousands of people, with Facebook, Google, Apple, Adobe, LinkedIn, Amazon all adding jobs regularly,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.
The region’s brutal traffic jams and forbidding housing costs remain the primary yellow flags that could impede the record-setting growth in the Bay Area, experts said Friday.
“The only clouds over the economy are whether we will be able to house people in the Bay Area and whether we can get them to their jobs in a decent amount of time,” Levy said.
Other experts agreed about the primary threats to the Bay Area’s hot economy.
“The high cost of living makes it very difficult for companies to employ people in low- or middle-income jobs,” Vitner said. “It costs so much to live in the Bay Area that it’s hard to make ends meet and hard for companies to pay people enough to stay here.”