The Bay Area lost 2,500 jobs during March, but the region’s long-term employment picture remains bright because of the strong tech sector and a consistent upswing in the South Bay job market, analysts said.
The March jobs loss, disclosed in a report released Friday, was due almost entirely to a reduction of 5,600 jobs in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region. Santa Clara County added 100 jobs and the East Bay gained 3,000, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department. The numbers were adjusted for seasonal variables.
The unemployment rate in Solano County was 7.9 percent in March, down from 8 percent in February and below the year-ago estimate of 8.9 percent, according to the state report released Friday. In Napa County, the March unemployment rate was 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent in February, and below the year-ago estimate of 6.9 percent.
These figures compare with a statewide unemployment rate of 8.4 percent and 6.8 percent for the nation during the same period, the report shows.
Within Solano, which ranked 17th among the state’s 58 counties, Vallejo’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate was the highest, and Benicia’s 4.9 percent, the lowest. Fairfield hit 8.7 percent last month, followed by Suisun’s 8.2 percent and Green Valley’s 7.5 percent. Dixon had a 6.4 percent jobless rate in March and Rio Vista’s was 5.9 percent.
In Napa, which ranked fifth statewide, the highest unemployment rate last month was American Canyon’s 9.7 percent, followed by St. Helena’s 6.5 percent, Napa’s 6.3 percent and Calistoga’s 4.8 percent.
Yountville had the county’s lowest, with a 4.3 percent jobless rate in March, the report shows.
“Technology remains strong in the San Francisco area, but there could have been some weakness in hotels because of weather-related flight cancellations from back East and the Midwest,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West. Construction job losses in San Francisco also appear to be a blip and should strengthen by summer, he added.
Economists pointed to the long-term trends in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area in general as evidence that the sluggish results in March don’t represent a harbinger of a weak job market ahead.
“The Bay Area overall is doing fine,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank. “The Bay Area is one of the few places in the country where the economy is strong across the board. And tech is doing well, not only in the Bay Area, but doing well, period, all across the nation.”
The job losses in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region were widespread. Restaurants and hotels lost 1,400 jobs, financial and real estate services lost 1,200, and the tech-oriented professional, scientific and technical services industries cut 1,000 jobs. Construction lost 700 jobs.
In the East Bay, the strongest employment sector was professional, scientific and technical services, which added 1,600 jobs.
California gained 11,800 jobs in March, extending a string of recent sturdy gains, according to the EDD. California has added jobs for 32 of the last 33 months, with the only setback being January.
The statewide jobless rate remained unchanged in March at 8.1 percent, labor officials reported. Jobless rates in the Bay Area remained largely unchanged at 6.8 percent in the East Bay, 6.3 percent in the South Bay and 5.1 percent in the San Francisco metro area.