Government Leads Job Growth
California added 7400 payroll jobs in April, primarily in the government sector which added 5800 positions. Trade, transit and utilities added 4200 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality (+3800), professional and business services (+3400), other services (+900), and education and health services (+700). Information lost the most jobs (-6800), followed by construction (-3000), manufacturing and financial (-700 each), and mining (-200). The jobless rate climbed from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 4.5 percent.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – Countrywide Financial Corporation is aggressively recruiting mortgage professionals in several states, including California. The move comes at a time when a number of other mortgage companies have been rocked by foreclosures. Countrywide, however, sees this as an opportunity to expand its sales force . . . Power companies across the nation are facing a shortage of skilled workers that is only going to get worse over the next five to ten years. That’s when half of the current utility company workers will be eligible for retirement. The talent shortage exists despite the fact that utility workers can earn over $100,000 annually without a college degree . . . Massachusetts may soon become the second state to ban employment discrimination based on height or weight. Most states already have laws that ban discrimination based on age, religion, disability, race and gender . . . Discovery Communications will close 103 mall and stand-alone stores by the end of September. One thousand employees will be let go.
STATEWIDE – DayStar Technologies, maker of solar cells on flexible film, is pulling up stakes and leaving Halfmoon, NY, in favor of returning to California. The company was lured from California by grants and incentives from New York State. DayStar, which laid off 20 workers after losing $18 million in the first quarter, wants to pursue new technology being developed in California . . . It’s unclear how government workers who handle the state lottery will fare employment-wise if the state legislature votes to privatize the lottery. State officials vowed to try to protect current lottery employees, but conceded everything is open to legal interpretation.
BAY AREA – San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland have a total of 91 nanotech entities (companies, universities, government labs and nonprofit business organizations), making the region the nation’s leading center for the emerging technology sector. Boston, the next strongest nanotech center, has 36 entities.
OAKLAND – A popular natural-foods grocer finds itself in the middle of a labor dispute despite winning its case with the National Labor Relations Board. Union pickets appeared at Farmer Joe’s market last week, while the family-owned store held a community picnic celebrating the NLRB decision. The dispute centers on procedures surrounding the vote to unionize.
SAN FRANCISCO – In an effort to trim loses, the SF Chronicle is cutting 25 percent of its newsroom staff. A total of 80 union and 20 management jobs will go.
SAN JOSE – More than 60 skycaps and security workers have threatened to go on strike in order to improve pay and working conditions at the local airport. The Service Employees International Union Local 1877 is currently trying to organize the workers.