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Local Unemployment Held Steady In September

— On the surface, San Diego County’s jobs picture seemed virtually unchanged in September. The unemployment rate held steady at 10.6 percent.

There were 100 fewer non-farm jobs in the county, and 200 additional agricultural workers. The health and education sectors added 1,200 new jobs last month. Local and state governments added 2,100 employees, most of them in education-related positions.

Those gains were offset, however, by a loss in leisure and hospitality, construction, and a category called “other services,” which includes repair and maintenance workers, laundry and personal services, and religious, civic and professional organizations.

Economists say just holding steady last month put the county ahead of a year ago.

“Last year, through September, we’d lost about 65,000 jobs,” said Dr. Lynn Reaser, head of the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University. “So far this year we’ve added about 2,800 jobs, in terms of non-farm payrolls during the first nine months.”

The county’s biggest job gains in the last year have come from professional and business services. Those 4,800 jobs have been in some of the county’s newest industries.

“The increase in the professional areas reflects the ongoing strength of San Diego in clean tech, bio tech and the core competency of the region in those scientific positions,” Reaser said.

A report released this week by University of the Pacific shows jobs like these will help coastal regions of California rebound from the recession faster than the state as a whole.

Even so, the slow rate of growth in the county means the region may not return to pre-recession employment levels – when unemployment was around 5.5 percent – until as late as 2017.

“We need labor force growth of 12,500 jobs a year just to meet the growth in the labor force,” said Marney Cox, chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments. “If we wanted to be back where we were before in five years, we would need 15,000 jobs a year to reemploy people who are unemployed.”

Economists expect the job market to grow between .5 and 1 percent this year.

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