Job numbers up, but many still out of work

January 18, 2008 11:14:44 PM PST
California added jobs in December, but failed to keep pace with the increasing number of people looking for work. As a result, the unemployment rate jumped to more than six-percent last month. Figures released Friday by the State Employment Development Department show payrolls increased by 15,500. A number of jobs were added in the fields of education and health. The heaviest losses were in construction and finance jobs.

Liz Ramirez spends her mornings at the Employment Development Department looking for a new job. When the mortgage industry bottomed out, Ramirez lost her job as a senior loan consultant for E-loan in Pleasanton. She's seeking an administrative position, along with so many others.

"I can see someone who's at the same desk, next to me, applying for the exact same job that comes up, but you know, so that's tough, but you hope for the best," says Ramirez.

"Our office, it's full of people that are looking for work, so they are concerned," says Janice Shriver with the Employment Development Department.

In the South Bay, including Santa Clara and San Benito counties, the EDD reports the number of overall jobs actually increased with 400 more from November to December and 13,000 more jobs over a one-year period from December of 2006 to December of 2007.

However, even after adjusting for seasonal shifts, construction looks dismal with 300 jobs lost in one month. Private education, including universities and professional schools, and health care services also showed a decrease of 400 fewer jobs.

Santa Clara County is of course home to the Silicon Valley, but these days is it a natural breeding ground for new jobs? The numbers indicate it all depends on what type of high-tech job you're looking for. Some are in high demand, while others are being cut back.

Manufacturing jobs are up, but in the information sector which is so important to the Silicon Valley, software publishing and Internet services jobs are down.

Valerie Frederickson is an executive recruiter for companies such as Nokia, Flextronics and Genentech. She says there's a big demand in human resources.

"If you're generalist, a specialist, if you can help with compensation plans, recruiting, training and development, anything in human resources, you've got a good job," says Frederickson.

Frederickson recommends job seekers find an edge.

"It's a good time for a lot of people whose skills are kind of marginal now or who nee dto refresh, to invest some serious time, even if it's a few months, and regain that edge so that they can get a new job, maybe even a higher salary and stay employed through the next decade," says Frederickson.


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