Expect High Jobless Rate to Linger
Even though the nation’s economy is on a "modest growth path," extraordinarily high unemployment rates will continue for some time, according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast’s fourth quarterly report for 2009. For California, the report concludes that the recession is behaving as predicted, with the state’s unemployment rate rising while local government jobs continue to decline. UCLA Anderson senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg says the short-term outlook for California shows little or no growth, with recovery slowly building momentum by 2011. Nickelsburg believes California’s recovery will be driven by exports of manufactured and agricultural goods; increased public-works construction; increased investment in business equipment and software; and a recovery nationwide.
A similar report by the A. Gary Andersen Center for Economic Research at Chapman University also anticipates a "very gradual, slow recovery," which should build steam in late 2010, drawing strength from revived consumer spending. Chapman economist Esmael Adibi sees private-sector job creation picking up in the second quarter of 2010 with the highest growth in education, health, and the professional and business services sectors. Adibi also predicts high-tech hiring will increase during the second half of 2010. But as for the job market’s return to pre-recession levels, Adibi says, "It’s going to take forever."
Quarter of Workforce Could Become Temps
Experts are predicting that up to one in four workers could be temporary in just a few years, as cautious employers typically hire temps in a recovery before committing to full-time staffers. Last month’s unexpectedly large decrease in job losses was mostly attributed to temporary staffing agencies filling slots for 52,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Staffing agencies experienced business growth of 10 to 20 percent last quarter as more employers shifted to contractors in the workplace. The growing demand for temps is driven by shorter timelines for product launches, requiring a flexible workforce. Another selling point is that contract workers can cost up to 30-percent less because they typically don’t receive benefits such as health coverage or unemployment insurance.
Holiday Hiring Increase Brings Joy
In spite of weak November retail sales, retailers hired more workers than a year ago, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Retail employment increased by 321,300 in November, a 37-percent increase over 2008. Combined with the 54,200 employees added in October, retailers have hired a total of 375,000 seasonal workers. "Holiday hiring is definitely stronger than a year ago, but it remains clear that retailers are still reluctant to hire," said CEO John Challenger. "Even if we see total holiday retail gains of 400,000 to 450,000 this year, it would be well short of the 714,000 seasonal jobs added on average between 1999 and 2007."
On the Job Front
MERCED – Golden Valley Health Center has received stimulus funds to build a new facility for senior citizens, serving a total of 7000 patients, with planned space for 4500 seniors. Construction will begin in Spring 2010, creating 200 construction jobs. The new facility will result in 30 new jobs once completed.
SACRAMENTO – The city has received approval for federal funding to expand light rail service in South Sacramento, from its existing terminus at Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College. The project is expected to create 1700 construction jobs, as well as 2000 public transit jobs upon completion . . . St. Anton Partners is ready to begin building Varenna Senior Apartments on the site of the former Shalom School in Arden Arcade. The construction project is expected to create 300 jobs.
SAN FRANCISCO – Jobs Now, a stimulus program aimed at getting unemployed parents back to work, has led to 1200 hirings. The city is working to expand the program, which pays 100 percent of a new employee’s salary until September 2010, when the program is scheduled to end. To qualify for the program, applicants must be SF residents, have a child under age 18, and make no more than twice the federal poverty level, which is approximately $36,000 for a family of three. The city is seeking to extend the program past September 2010, and to find additional funds which would allow people without children to apply.
California has Green Thumb for Green Jobs
Green jobs grew at almost three times the rate of total jobs in California between 1995 and 2008, according to a report by Next 10 and Collaborative Economics. As the economy slowed between 2007 and 2008, total employment fell 1 percent, but green jobs grew by 5 percent. Total jobs in California grew by only 13 percent from 1995 to 2008, while green jobs grew by 36 percent and green businesses increased by 45 percent. Venture capitalist and Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry commented, "While green jobs clearly cannot solve the state’s current unemployment challenges, over time these jobs could become a growing portion of total jobs in California." Although the absolute green job numbers are not huge, they are comparable to the biotech and software sectors.