Bay Area Jobs Outlook - Winners, Losers, and Boomers

Categories: Business


Other than left fielder for the Giants, what jobs are opening up in San Francisco?

By Joe Eskenazi

Plastics may have been well and good for 1967, but to what field will the overbearing Mr. McGuires of today direct the apathetic young Ben Braddocks?

Health care, Benjamin. There’s a great future in health care. Can you guess why? Because Dustin Hoffman is now 70 years old, that’s why!

Richard Holden, the San Francisco-based regional commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, told me that, over the next eight years, his organization projects there will be 51 percent more jobs created for personal and health care aides and 49 percent more home health aides.

And while mom would certainly kvell if you became a doctor, the vast majority of the jobs in the burgeoning health care industry aren’t going to the guys with the white coats and golf clubs in the trunks of their BMWs.

“There’s no question: With the [aging] population and the possibility of broadening health insurance like they’ve done in San Francisco and have talked about doing in the state, there will be more demand for health care folks,” said Steve Levy, the founding director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“That goes all the way from doctors to nurses to nurses aids to respiratory technicians. They’re not all professional [positions].”

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projections apply to the entire nation, Holden noted that the Bay Area is a diversified job market that houses many of the most (and least) promising fields:

*Across the United States, Network systems and data-communications analyst positions are predicted to grow by 53 percent by 2016.

*Computer software engineering jobs are slated to expand by 45 percent.

*Scientific, management and technical consulting occupations are predicted to boom by 78 percent.

*The BLS is betting on gambling-related jobs jumping by 66 percent.

On the downside, stock clerks and order-filers, file clerks, packers, and cashiers in all fields not related to gambling should see their ranks decimated, according to the BLS.

Also, the subprime mortgage fiasco’s aftereffects are still with us: Todd Johnson, an economist in the BLS’ San Francisco office, notes that realtors, mortgage brokers, and even bankers are losing their positions locally and nationwide.

Local statistics gleaned by the state’s Employment Development Department reveal that, intuitively, it’s not the best time to be a Bay Area construction worker, either. East Bay payrolls shed 1,400 such jobs in December alone, and nearly 7,500 over the course of 2007. In the San Francisco Metro area (S.F., San Mateo and Marin counties), the number of construction workers held steady. In December of 2006, there were 43,500 construction workers. Last month, there were 43,700.

That’s one of the reasons Janice Shriver of the EDD’s labor market information division is bullish on San Francisco’s job market (despite daily front-page photos of horrified stock traders holding their hands over their mouths like silent movie actors or Fed chairman Ben Bernanke apparently suffering from Excedrin Headache No. 54).

In December, San Francisco gained 3,300 jobs, pushing the total number in the S.F. Metro area over 1 million for the first time since 2001. Shriver predicted further gains locally in retail and wholesale trades, in the leisure industry, and in the transportation and warehousing trades (that’d be bus drivers, chauffeurs, messengers, truck drivers, etc.).

“There’s a general slowdown,” she admitted. “But San Francisco looks strong.”

And yet, even in fields which may not expand by one tenth of a percent, scads of jobs may open up. And why will that happen? For the same reason that changing bedpans will soon be a lucrative new field. Or, let’s put it this way:

Mr. McGuire: I want to say four words to you. Just four words.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Baby boomer retirement avalanche.

Tomorrow, we examine the ramifications of the mass retirements to come, and how you may get a job out of them.

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