In March, San Diego employment fell on a year-over-year basis — the first annualized decline for fifteen years.

In April, job growth went positive once again.

The housing boom beneficiary sectors provided their requisite drag, but according to the estimates released today by California’s Employment Development Department, job growth outside those sectors was strong enough to drag the region as a whole into positive territory.

The accompanying graph displays the number of jobs added or lost by the three housing boom sectors in addition to jobs gained outside those sectors and overall. Construction was hardest hit with a loss of 7,900 jobs or 9.0 percent, followed by finance and real estate with a loss of 5,300 jobs or 6.5 percent and then by retail with a loss of 1,600 jobs or 1.1 percent.

Things were much brighter in the region’s other economic sectors, which grew by a total of 17,500 jobs or 1.8 percent. Overall employment growth was 2,700 jobs or .2 percent — not great, but at least lacking a minus sign.

Please note that the graph displays the data a bit differently than in the past. Now, each data point represents that month’s change from a year prior. This method provides a better picture of the trends at work by automatically accounting for seasonal effects. I have also switched from graphing percent declines to showing the actual number of jobs gained or lost in order to represent each sector’s relative influence on the overall employment picture. (Thanks to reader JP for the suggestions on how to better visualize this data.)

The graph shows that while everything but retail bounced last month, job growth in the construction, finance, and retail sectors appear to be in somewhat of a longer-term downtrend. The same could be said for overall job growth. However, employment outside the housing boom sectors appears to have been quite steady, oscillating around the 15,000 jobs-per-year mark as far back as the graph goes. We aren’t seeing much in the way of second-order effects from the housing bust.

As I wrote in February and revisited in March, these preliminary estimates involve some pretty heavy guesswork and are subject to substantial revision. Assuming that they are correct, however, it looks like San Diego’s comparatively robust non-housing economy prevailed in April.


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