San Francisco Unemployment Picture Grows Less Awful

Times are tough in San Francisco. But they're not Joad Family tough.
By all measures, San Francisco's job market had a damn good run between September and October. Of course, this is the equivalent of a gambler, deep in the hole, winning a single hand. But you take what you can get.

Per figures just released by the state's Employment Development Department, San Francisco's October unemployment rate dropped to 9.3 percent from 9.6 percent the month prior. The Oct. 2009 unemployment rate was also 9.6 percent -- so, we're better off than we were a year ago.

San Francisco County's 9.3 percent unemployment rate is the sixth-best of the state's 58 counties. No. 1: Marin at 8.0 percent. No. 58: Imperial County's 29.3 percent. The state unemployment rate holds firm at 12 percent.

You can view the county-by-county unemployment rates here:

CA Counties RankingsNov19.xls

In what may be a harbinger of good things to come, the job gain last month was better than that of the 20-year average -- making it a good employment month even compared to the best of times. It's a pretty big deal for 1,500 San Franciscans to drop off the unemployment rolls in a single month. Then again, San Francisco has more unemployed people than normal: 42,500 as of the latest count -- but 44,000 folks without jobs in September.

The job category "professional and business services" welcomed 700 new workers to the ranks of the employed -- more than double the 20-year average gain for September-October. Those jobs include computer systems design, accounting, architectural services, and biotech research and development.

"Temporary and other employment services" also grew -- but this may be a good thing. Employment Development Department labor market analyst Ruth Kavanagh points out that economists view an increase in the hiring of temporary workers as an "economic leading indicator," as employers may actually hire people full-time after going the temp route. In any event, those numbers usually decline by 200 this time of year, but instead grew by 200.

Finally, food service and bars went on an unexpectedly large hiring binge. Cheers.

"The jobs picture between September and October did better than it would typically," sums up Kavanagh. "We've got lots of jobs to regain. But this was a better-than-average month."

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