It may be time to finally change the title of this monthly post from "Unemployment Friday" to "Employment Friday"....unless you live in the Sacramento Area.
Statewide, non-farm payrolls boomed by 96,500 in February following a flat reading for January. The surprisingly strong performance means non-farm payrolls have surpassed the 14 million mark for the first time since June 2009 and have gained an impressive total of 208,000 jobs in the 5 months since bottoming out in September 2010.
I am unconvinced that this is a sustainable pace as the sizable gains in construction and information will likely receed in coming months. In addition, the household survey (used to calculate the unemployment rate) shows much weaker employment growth. Employment in the household survey is only up 40,000 off the bottom and slight decrease in the statewide unemployment rate has as much or more to do with the decreasing labor force than significant gains in employment.
Nevertheless, there is enough good news in this report to confidently declare that the entire state is out of the recession with the notable exception of Sacramento. Yes, even Northern San Joaquin Valley areas such as Stockton and Modesto; and the Inland Empire are showing signs of recovery in the private sector even as they are being battered by local government cuts.
Our next state and metro forecast update will be in April.