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Employment outlook: Low growth expected in the north

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor
1/6/2011

Declines in the state's northernmost manufacturing and information industries will be tempered somewhat by growth in government and healthcare industries, according to new projections released last week by the Employment Development Department (EDD).

However, even that small growth will be less than the projected statewide average of 9.7 percent.

The government will continue to be the largest employer in the region, with more growth expected in the local government sector, compared to the state and federal sectors.

Most of the job openings forecasted for the seven-county region will be in areas that do not require higher education.

Cashiers will find the most jobs in the industry with the most openings: food services, including wait staff, prep cooks, and fast-food workers.

Following closely behind will be retail salespeople, forest and conservation workers, registered nurses, correctional officers and jailers.

An aging and growing population will continue to trigger the fastest growth in the industry sector that includes education, healthcare and social services.

Other industry sectors forecasted to exceed the projected regional growth rate of 5 percent are government, leisure and hospitality, and retail trade.

Among the 50 fastest growing occupations in the region are pharmacy technicians, fitness trainers, and hotel and resort clerks, with median wages between $9.42 and $18.42 per hour.

About a dozen of those jobs will require an associate's degree or higher, with median annual wages between $25,405 and $130,190.

In total, almost 5,000 new jobs are expected from industry growth, and 17,500 from net replacements - openings created by aging workers or those who have quit, been fired or laid off - according to Sheila Stock, information consultant for the EDD Northern Labor Market.

The new projections are for the years 2008 - 18, a recent update of the 2006 - 16 figures.

For job-specific projections, log on to the EDD Labor Market Information website at labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=145.



Plumas County

Looking at the employment numbers for Plumas County, there has been an exponential drop since the latter half of 2006.

In October 2009, the civilian unemployment rate for the county was at 14.6 percent, with the state at 12 percent and the nation at 9.5 percent.

For 2010, the county's unemployment rate rose to 15.8 percent, while the state's remained the same and the nation's improved slightly to 9 percent.

Lassen County is closer to the state's unemployment rate at 12.4 percent.

There is hope for recovery according to Stock, though it will probably be small.

Using information from 2008 and 2009, with statewide projections, economic experts at the EDD add what they know about the region into a statistical model used to create the regional projections.

"From the projections, we do anticipate some industries to recover and help the overall employment in the Northern Mountain Region," Stock said.

Another positive note comes from Plumas Corporation Executive Director John Sheehan.

While dramatic drops in construction and manufacturing have been chilling, the small log mill at Sierra Pacific Industries in Quincy reopened last spring after about a year of closure.

And there has been an increase in the transient occupancy tax. The tax receipts for July through September 2010, are back up to 2008 levels, which were the highest on record.

"That shows a greater resiliency in tourism which may bring us back sooner than otherwise," Sheehan said.

"But," he warned, "we are so dependent on the real estate and housing in the outside world that our recovery will follow the country's in general, unless we can find some profitable niches."

Those construction jobs account for 39.8 percent of total construction jobs in the seven-county northern Mountain Region according to Stock.

Sheehan agreed with those figures, but noted the construction companies with crews working in the county hail mostly from the Redding area.



Job search

"The one stop centers are a great place to start in looking for a job," Stock said.

In East Quincy, the center is at 1953 E. Main St., and the Susanville center is at 1616 Chestnut St.

Online resources include jobbankinfo.org for jobs across the country, or caljobs.ca.gov for jobs with the state of California.

Other sites that provide more job search resources include jobcentral.com, job-hunt.org and jobstar.org.
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