Business & Real Estate

Sacramento unemployment up to 6.7 percent on seasonal layoffs

Sacramento’s job market went through its usual post-holiday blues in January, but experts said the regional economy continues to gain strength.

The region’s unemployment rate jumped to 6.7 percent as some 7,800 jobs disappeared during the month, the state Employment Development Department reported Tuesday. The bulk of the layoffs came in retail: 5,200 jobs.

“This is a pretty typical January,” said George Marley, labor market consultant at the EDD.

The December unemployment rate was 6.3 percent.

Despite the loss of jobs in January, the region’s job market continues to improve. Employment in retail, for instance, was 3.2 percent higher than a year ago, a gain of 3,000 jobs.

Five hundred jobs disappeared in January in construction, the smallest January decline in 25 years. Even though the residential housing market has yet to take flight, construction employment is 6.2 percent higher than it was a year earlier, thanks to improvement in the commercial sector. What’s more, Marley said, total construction payrolls in greater Sacramento, at 44,800, were the highest they’ve been for a January in five years.

“Overall, I would say it looks pretty good for Sacramento,” said economist Jeff Michael, director of the University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center. “We continue to be in a solid recovery.”

Michael said he was particularly impressed with year-over-year gains in the “professional, scientific and technical services” sector, which includes architects, lawyers, accountants, computer programmers and others. The sector has added 1,400 jobs in the past year.

The release of local unemployment data follows the disclosure Friday that statewide unemployment fell to 6.9 percent in January, down two-tenths of a percent. It marked the first time California’s unemployment rate was at less than 7 percent since May 2008.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.