Unemployment rates came to a standstill last month, both in California and the Sacramento area, but beneath the surface the economy churned out a solid number of new jobs.
Statewide unemployment clocked in at 7.3 percent for the second straight month, even though employers added 41,500 jobs. That represented a sharp turnaround from the loss of 14,200 jobs in September, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
In greater Sacramento, the unemployment rate was steady at 6.6 percent in October. Yet the region added 8,000 jobs during the month.
The bottom line: The economic recovery is continuing at a steady pace in greater Sacramento and across the state. The state has gained 319,500 jobs in the past year, second only to Texas. The Sacramento area has added 22,700 jobs in that time, a growth rate of 2.6 percent. That’s more robust than the statewide average of 2.1 percent, and it has driven unemployment in the four-county region to its lowest level since spring 2008.
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“The local job gain was a really good month,” said economist Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific. Sacramento “is on a stronger growth path,” he added.
Michael said the Sacramento area is experiencing good job growth in state government, which has added 2,100 jobs in the past year as the budget picture has improved. The professional and business services sector, which takes in everything from engineers to temporary help, has added 5,800 jobs, with much of the growth coming in the technical and managerial ranks.
“It’s not all temp agencies,” Michael said.
George Marley, labor market consultant at EDD, said the Sacramento area has added nearly 66,000 payroll jobs in four years. At current growth rates, the region could have more jobs than ever by this time next year, he said.
The number of jobs in the four-county Sacramento region peaked at 933,500 in June 2007. The current total is 901,500.
On the statewide level, Michael said he’s encouraged that an estimated 10,000 Californians entered the labor force last month. While that expansion kept the unemployment rate from falling, it was a sign of improving confidence in the economy.
“There’s good strong growth in the labor force,” said Michael, director of UOP’s Business Forecasting Center. “That’s been lagging.”
Eight of the major job categories saw growth statewide in October, including manufacturing and the information sector. Three categories lost jobs.
Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.