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As it has every month since January, according to the latest estimates from the state of California, San Diego’s regional employment grew in May. 

But what (as I imagine some of the more bearish readers are thinking, and, perhaps, readying to inform me via electronic nastygram) of the effect of temporary hiring for the US Census?  It’s a fair question.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that short-lived census jobs accounted for over 95 percent of nationwide hiring in May.  Isn’t the same thing going on here?

No, as it turns out.

I found no data on how many census employees were hired in San Diego, so I took a stab at estimating the effects of census hiring another way.  (Non-nerdy readers may wish to drift into a gentle slumber at this point, though I’d appreciate if you could re-awaken at the outset of the next paragraph).   The job data includes a category for non-Department of Defense federal government employment, which is the category into which census workers fall.   As a result of census hiring, this sector has indeed grown quite sharply in recent months.  My simple little estimation technique was to ignore the recent surge in federal government employment and instead to assume that, lacking census hiring, the federal government would have risen at the same rate as the rest of the economy throughout 2010.

The results of this exercise can be found in the following graph, which displays San Diego County employment each month since the start of 2007.  The solid blue line indicates total employment, census workers included, while the dashed blue line represents my estimate for non-census employment.

Excluding the census workers makes for an employment increase that, while slightly less vigorous, is still in line with the upward trajectory that job growth has exhibited all year.

The year-over-year change in employment also improved even when census workers were excluded:

Of course, while the annual rate of change is less negative than before, it’s still negative.  But if it employment keeps growing as it has in recent months, this should change soon enough.

— RICH TOSCANO

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