Friday, August 20, 2010

Unemployment Friday

The California unemployment rate holds steady at a miserable 12.3%.  That's not a surprise.  We expect it to stay 12% or higher for the remainder of this year, before declining in 2011.

Payroll jobs declined by 9,400, mostly due to Census lay-offs.  Taking out government losses, private payrolls inched up by 13,700, continuing a pattern of painfully slow private job growth.  For the past year, our forecast has been that private job growth would start picking up now, and we would see monthly private sector job gains of about 25,000 in the 3rd quarter.  Given the recent string of weaker than expected economic reports at the national level, I expected this to come in much lower than our forecast (which we will be revising down next month). 

The metro areas are hard to read this month, because they are all dominated by a loss in local government jobs.  Local government jobs include schools, and they always decline a lot now due to summer break, not to mention the new fiscal year affects for local governments.  So, there is a lot of noise in this data, and it will be hard to get a good feel for the depth of this effect until Sept/Oct.  On the more postive side, construction job loss seems to have bottomed out now in most areas, although we have yet to see growth. 

Taking a longer view, 6-12 mos., the best performing metro areas are clearly Orange County (hospitality rebounding well, as is health care and professional services), San Jose (computers, tech rebounding well), followed by San Diego and LA.  Inland areas are lagging badly, and SF and the East Bay have not had a great year either.

I will be looking at this data and the outlook a lot in September/October, and will have more to say about it this fall.  Turning my focus back to water for the next 2 weeks.

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