Bay Area Job Watch

September 2017

Most everyone has now read the stories about recent Bay Area job losses. It is true that job growth has slowed substantially over the past two years falling on a year over year basis by nearly two-thirds.

The Bay Area is no Longer California’s Fastest Growing Region

The Bay Area posted a 1.4% job growth rate during the past 12 months and lagged the state job growth rate for the second month in a row. The U.S. growth rate was affected last month by hurricane-related job losses.

Job growth is slowing throughout the region. Year over year job growth reached a low of 55,100 in September July well below the 100,000-150,000 levels of recent years.

At the same time, the September data showed positive trends for labor force growth and unemployment. Unemployment rates are still falling even though rates are already low. The regional unemployment rate of 3.3% in September is the lowest since the boom. The number of unemployed residents fell from 159,500 a year ago to 145,000 last month.

Labor force growth picked up last month and the region has added 45,000 workers (+1.1%) over the past 12 months. There are many reasons why job growth may have slowed so much. One is difficulty for workers to find housing. But there have also been a slew of layoffs resulting from consolidations. And retirements are surging as boomers are growing older.

But there are many indications that companies and communities are responding to growth challenges and planning for the future.