San Diego County’s record low unemployment rate held steady in October and was led by gains in education hiring for the start of the school year, according to state labor data released Friday.
The county’s local non-adjusted unemployment rate in October was 3.3 percent, up 0.1 percent from the previous month. A year ago, the rate stood at 3.6 percent.
In the past 12 months, San Diego employers added 26,000 jobs, with most in professional and business services. That’s up from 16,600 jobs at the same time last year.
“The market is solid right now,” said Alan Gin, economist at University of San Diego. “Job growth is not spectacular — not in the 30,000 range — but the unemployment rate is low. And it could be that job growth is not in that 30,000 range because there is just not enough workers.”
Government hiring led gains between September and October with 7,200 jobs, mainly for education.
In the big picture for the year, professional and business services have made up more than half of the job gains in San Diego for the year, with 16,400 new positions. The typically high-paying job category includes architecture, legal services and scientific research.
Other growing industries have been manufacturing with 5,600 jobs, educational and health services with 4,600 jobs and government with 3,500 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality jobs had the biggest loss year-over-year, with a reduction of 4,000 jobs. The loss was led by 5,200 job losses in accommodation and food services. But, the loss was offset by a gain of 1,200 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation.
Gin said losses in the hospitality sector have been ongoing for more than a year and could be result of a correction after a large ramp up in hiring around two years ago.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector — including positions in grocery stores, retail and storage businesses — has lost the second-most jobs at 1,700.
When adjusted for seasonal swings, the unemployment rate was also 3.3 percent, said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University. That is still below the seasonally adjusted nationwide rate of 3.7 percent and statewide rate of 4.1 percent.
“San Diego’s job market continues to be a challenge for employers across industries involving both high and low skills,” she said. “For students and others looking for their first job or a different position, it could not be a better time.”
In October, state labor officials said the local employer with the most job advertisements was UC San Diego with 1,460 postings. It was followed by Robert Half International with 960 jobs, Northrop Grumman with 526 jobs and Target Corp. with 447 jobs.
The occupation with the most job advertisements was software developers with 1,290. It was followed by retail salespersons (1,211), registered nurses (1,133) and customer service representatives (881).
Genine Wilson, vice president of the Southern California division of staffing agency Kelly Services, said the demand is so strong for software engineers that it will continue into the future, no matter what ups and downs come in the economy. As evidence, she’s trying to encourage her son to purse the career in college.
“It’s such a technological age. There’s just no end in the future for the need of these skills,” she said.
Wilson said overall the need for workers in San Diego will remain, especially for tech workers, into the next year. She said even if job growth slows, it won’t necessarily mean a lot of unfilled jobs.
Across the state, employers added 36,400 positions last month, more than making up for a downward revision that took 10,000 jobs off September’s growth.
October’s payrolls were up 1.8 percent compared with a year earlier, when joblessness stood at 4.5 percent in California.
The data reveal a Golden State economy that continues to thrive over an eight-year stretch despite the U.S.-China trade war, labor shortages and a housing deficit that has exacerbated homelessness in both cities and suburbs.
State labor officials do not seasonally adjust jobless rates for individual counties, but the unadjusted numbers show San Diego County in the middle of the pack with a 3.3 percent. The jobless rate in Los Angeles County was 4.7 percent, 3.9 percent in San Bernardino County, 2.9 percent in Orange County and 4.4 percent in Riverside County.