Last month, San Diego once again enjoyed a robust rate of employment growth outside of the housing boom beneficiary industries . Excluding the construction, retail, and finance/real estate sectors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that San Diego added 19,900 jobs between February 2006 and February 2007. The non-housing boom sectors grew by a healthy 2.1 percent.

However, the housing boom sectors continue to drag down overall employment growth at an increasing pace. Annual construction industry losses amounted to 6,100 jobs, which represents a 6.6 percent shrinkage of the sector. The financial activities sector, in which the BLS includes real estate and mortgage-related activity, lost 2,600 jobs or 3.1 percent.

The retail industry also lost 2,600 jobs, which represents a retail sector contraction of 1.8 percent. We shouldn’t make anything of the sharp drop since December, which was to be expected after the holiday shopping season wound down. But a year-over-year contraction of 1.8 percent in retail employment is notable because consumer activity is such a big part of both the local and nationwide economies.

Losses in the housing boom beneficiary sectors were steep enough to cut overall job gains by more than half, resulting in total employment growth of 8,600 jobs or .7 percent.

— RICH TOSCANO

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