The rate of year-over-year job losses in San Diego declined again last month, according to the latest estimates from the EDD. Between September 2008 and September 2009, the region lost 52,000 jobs. This is not great, obviously, but it’s an improvement over recent months.

The accompanying graph provides a look at trailing-year job losses since January 2008, with the sectors that were at the epicenter of the housing-fueled economic boom broken out separately.

When discussing the June job numbers, I hazarded a guess that the year-over-year numbers would soon start to look “less dismal.” This wasn’t because I expected that things would necessarily improve, but because the monthly job numbers would start comparing to progressively lower year-ago figures once we started measuring against late 2008, when the jobs picture really started to get ugly. One reader (that I know of) mocked this forecast but so far it’s looking like it may have been correct, as the annual rate of job loss peaked at 57,300 jobs one month later in July and has declined since.

Employment is actually estimated to have increased by a meager, but at least positive, 900 jobs between August and September. One shouldn’t make too much of a month’s data, especially when seasonal factors are involved. But month-to-month employment shrank in both September 2007 and September 2008, so it’s not as if September is a particularly strong month for job growth.

There has been so much volatility over the past year that inflection points could be missed by focusing only on the annual rates of change. So monthly changes are something I’d like to keep an eye on, with all due disclaimers about seasonality and the random fluctuations that can occur in a single month of data. This is especially so when the data in question is very much an estimate — a topic I’ve often discussed in relation to the EDD’s job numbers.

Bearing all that in mind, we’ve had one month of decent employment data here in San Diego. Let’s see what happens next.


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