Orange County Job Growth May Be Double What We Think it Is

Posted by David Feldberg on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 at 3:51pm.

Job Growth
Local shopping centers are busy. Freeway traffic is heavy. Homes sell briskly despite high prices. And landlords continue to raise rents.

So how could Orange County job growth be so anemic, according to employment statistics released monthly by the state?

The answer might just be here: Job growth looks to be more than double what we think it is.

When we read an article on the Orange County Register, written by Jonathan Lansner, we saw that he had federal employment statistics, that were released Tuesday, Dec. 5, into his trusty spreadsheet, finding that Orange County employment is rising at a 2.2 percent annual rate in 2017’s first six months. It’s a sharp contrast to the state’s comparable monthly data that show job growth averaging a post-recession low of a 0.9 percent in the first half.

How can such a variance happen?

The federal data — reported quarterly for most major U.S. counties — are derived from statisticians analyzing unemployment insurance records of 120-million-plus workers nationwide. The monthly state data released by the Employment Development Department in conjunction with U.S. job trackers are based on a survey of 71,000 California employers.

However, the bigger sample does take time to review. The quarterly federal job studies take about five months to produce while the state data is out roughly three weeks after month’s end.

So, when Lansner asked Chapman University economist Jim Doti about this wide gap in job growth figures – in human terms, it’s approximately 20,000 extra jobs – he immediately jumped into forecasting mode. Yesterday, Wednesday, Dec. 6, Doti presented his semi-annual business outlook to local business leaders.

We recently saw the well respected Doti speak at an economic forum that Fidelity put together at the Pacific Club with a few other economists. His engagement was quite riveting to say the least.

Doti said he had been wondering why Orange County job growth looked so slow by the math of the state’s monthly tallies. Every other factor surrounding job creation — from overall business growth to upbeat trade, real estate and consumer data to economically supportive low-interest rates – suggested bosses were still in a significant hiring mode.

That hunch was confirmed by discovery of the new data. As a result, Doti said he’s upped his estimate of 2017 Orange County job growth to 2.4 percent from 0.6 percent and increased his 2018 forecast for local hiring to 2.6 percent from 0.8 percent.

“This is really good news,” Doti says. “Orange County is doing at least as well as California, if not better; and certainly better than the nation.”

Orange County bosses have been creating roughly 200,000 new jobs in total. That’s twice the average 1 percent growth seen yearly since 1990. So, previous reports of this year’s lowered hirings were viewed as a disappointment, at best.

So if you’re patient, come early 2018, we will get an even better picture of this year’s job-market oomph. The state annually revises its job data from the previous two years worth of survey results with the help of more concrete statistics like these federal counts of workers gathered from unemployment insurance filings.

Doti said there is a little question the yearly recalibrating of the monthly Orange County job data – and that for other parts of California – will reveal job growth above what current figures show.

“The only question,” Doti says, “is how big the upward revision will be?”

The full original article written by Jonathan Lansner, Orange County Register can be read here. This article was paraphrased.


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