San Francisco Employment Figures Bode Well For Everyone Except Artists and Athletes

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Flickr/F Delventhal
Filmmaker, Bureaucrat, Sport
These are unparalleled boom times in the Bay Area and in San Francisco, where unemployment dropped yet again.

Unemployment in San Francisco is now down to 4.4 percent, the state Employment Development Department announced on Friday, with big gains in construction, seasonal hospitality and restaurant jobs, and "professional and business services." The good news prompted Mayor Ed Lee to boast that the city's economic policies are working out like gangbusters (only two counties, Marin and San Mateo, have lower unemployment figures).

Yes, these are fine times to be a carpenter, a bartender, or a professional. Less fine for artists, people in publishing, government workers, and athletes (?). Jobs in these fields all shrunk over the past year, with performers in "spectator sports" seeing a double-digit drop.

Keep in mind first of all that employment figures can be a bit misleading -- they don't include how much the jobs are paying, how much -- if anything -- is offered in the way of benefits, and even if the jobs are temporary or full-time.

That said, the Bay Area is better off than the rest of California. The state is grappling with a 7.3 percent unemployment rate, and a short drive away from San Francisco, the job market looks much worse.

Most of the Central Valley mired in double-digit joblessness, and Imperial County -- birthplace of Giants closer Sergio Romo -- is suffering a 21.6 percent unemployment rate.

There are 44,300 unemployed adults in the three-county "West Bay" area of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo, the EDD reported, down from 53,900 a year ago.

Just what are the newly employed doing? Building things, mostly. The biggest jump in employment came in the construction trades, which added almost 5,000 jobs in the past year, with the biggest jump percentage-wise coming in "specialty trade contractors."

Professional business services, the category under which most tech jobs would fall (engineers, R&D people, and consultants) is also doing well, with another 11,000 jobs in that sector added over the last year.

But what about the rest of you? What about lawyers, government workers, artists, writers and people working in "credit intermediation"?

For those poor souls, it's rough out here. Work in all those sectors continues to dry up. Legal services lost 300 jobs, which is bad news for an industry that churns out fresh-faced graduates with little-to-no hope at scoring a job.

Jobs were also lost in the public sector (federal government jobs dropped 3.3 percent), in publishing (2.5 percent) and motion picture and sound recording (5.1 percent). But nobody is as bad off as those working in "performing arts" and "spectator sports."

Baseball players and ballet dancers lost nearly 1,000 jobs, for a 14.5 percent dip, the biggest in any trade by far.

Just more impetus to drop the pen, hang up the glove and the ballet slippers and learn how to code.


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