Auckland skyline, May 2023.
The Bay Area consolidated with a solid gain in jobs in April, a rise that topped the fourth straight month of net employment losses in the beleaguered technology sector.
An increase of 11,200 jobs overall in the nine-county region in April provided a particularly counterpoint to the alarming loss of 4,400 jobs in the region during the month of March, according to a report released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department. California as a whole also posted strong gains.
“These are heartening numbers, and confirm that we are generally healthy,” said Russell Hancock, president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a San Jose-based think tank. “Sure, we’ve been through a series of layoffs, but our positive growth over the same period should be read as a clear signal about our core strength.”
The tech industry, long a regional harbinger of overall employment health, is clearly in the doldrums.
Technology companies shed a net total of 1,600 jobs during the month of April, according to information extracted by Beacon Economics from EDD’s official monthly report.
Beacon’s calculations revealed that so far in 2023, the tech industry has cut a total of 16,500 jobs in the Bay Area. Tech companies cut Bay Area jobs in each of the first four months of this year.
April’s gains in the Bay Area were primarily driven by an increase of 6,400 jobs in the East Bay, along with an increase of 300 jobs in the Santa Clara County area and 1,600 jobs in the San Francisco-San Mateo metro area. All figures have been adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.
“Job growth in the Bay Area has been uneven in recent months, but job creation appears to have rebounded strongly in April,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.
The California Department of Employment Development reported that it added 67,000 jobs in April. Golden State has now added jobs over four straight months. The latest employment setback for California was the loss of 20,200 jobs in December 2022.
Despite last month’s job gains in California, the statewide unemployment rate worsened to 4.5% in April, up from 4.4% in March. The job totals and unemployment rates are derived from two different government surveys and can sometimes move in contradictory directions.
“California accounted for nearly a quarter of the jobs added in the country during the month of April,” said Taner Osman, director of research at Beacon Economics. “The state’s economy had a strong start to the year, adding jobs at a faster rate than the nation as a whole.”
Santa Clara County, with its rebound in April, has now gained jobs for 27 straight months. The last time South Bay lost jobs was in January 2021. However, the 300-job increase was the smallest monthly gain over that more than two-year period.
A rise in employment in the East Bay in April made up for the loss of 4,900 jobs in March for the Alameda-Contra Costa County metro area.
The San Francisco-San Mateo area suffered 1,000 job losses in February and another 500 in March until job gains in April.
The stuttering performance of the technology sector has led other industries to take center stage.
“The April job gains in the Bay Area were a surprise to us, especially given the March job losses and the ongoing job cuts announcements at some of the largest technology companies in the region,” said Jeff Bellisario, executive director of the Bay Area Economic Council. institute. Other sectors continue to add jobs.
Here are some of the non-technology industries that performed well in the Bay Area during the month of April, according to seasonally adjusted calculations produced by Beacon. All numbers at the level of the Gulf region:
- Healthcare organizations added 6,300 jobs
- Hotels, restaurants and drinking establishments increased employment by 2,200
- Administrative support, consisting primarily of clerical and office staff, added 1,400 jobs
- Retailers added 1,300 jobs
- Construction increased employment by 1,100 jobs
However, many of these industries—particularly retail, construction, and administrative support—while important, also depend in part on the strength of core sectors such as technology and manufacturing for their future prospects.
If technology or manufacturing workers lose their jobs, those employees tend to spend less money in stores, restaurants, and hotels. If tech companies reduce their appetites for office space and facilities, the construction business could dwindle, too.
Although employment boomed in April, tough times could be in the Bay Area as 2023 progresses, some economists warn.
“Technology, finance, small business, and other employers may selectively lay off workers and slow hiring as they prepare for more challenging economic and financial times,” Anderson said.
However, the Bay Area’s economy appears to have weathered some of the turmoil unleashed by the work-from-home trends that have emerged in the wake of coronavirus-related business closures, according to Michael Bernick, an employment attorney at a law firm. Duane Morris is former Director of EDD State.
“Remote working has fundamentally changed the nature of work here in the Bay Area,” Bernick said. “But its impact on the overall job numbers so far has been limited.”
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