California job growth in 2014 sees highest numbers in years

Job growth across the nation reached highs last year that had not been recorded since 1999, according to the Department of Labor. California added over 320,000 jobs last year and the state’s unemployment rate finished the year at 7 percent, a 1.3 percent decrease from the previous year.

The Sacramento region also showed improvement.

The Sacramento region added over 21,000 jobs last year and finished with an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, according to the DOL.

Cosumnes River College Career Specialist Anna Davtian says she’s “definitely” noticed this change, specifically through the number of job listings on the Los Rios Internship and Career Services website.

“Before I would see about 200-something job openings and most of them were internships or volunteer opportunities,” Davtian said. “Now I see close to 400 job openings.”

The total number of LINCS job postings also experienced an increase.

In 2013 there were 1,665 job postings on the LINCS website, Davtian said. In 2014 that number increased to 1,839 job postings.

But some of these numbers may not be painting the entire picture.

“The unemployment rate that you see or hear about the most often is kind of the straight shot. It’s the simplest way of looking at it,” said Economics Professor Edwin Fagin. “Underemployed workers, which are people that aren’t working full-time, they’re working 30 hours instead. Or maybe it’s somebody like me who has a PhD that’s working at Starbucks.”

“So we think of both of those categories as underemployed,” Fagin said. “If we account for that, maybe the unemployment rate looks worse than it does right now.”

Genesis Xiong, a 19-year-old undecided major who is studying criminal justice, said he would not want to work more hours.

“It depends. For me, I know I can for sure manage more hours but then the thing is I’d rather focus on school,” Xiong said. “Work is just if I need the extra money for gas or to pay bills. School is the main focus.”

Xiong also discussed discouraged workers, who are not counted in the unemployment rate.

“My cousin, he was looking for about a year,” Xiong said. “Most of the places he applied to, they couldn’t work with his schedule. That was a conflict so he just stopped.”

Other students have become discouraged in their job search as well.

“Some of them would come and completely give up,” Davtian said. “They were very sad. They would be crying here and be very frustrated.”

But she said sometimes it’s a matter of being prepared.

“When I do the annual career fair, and I’ve been doing it for many years now since 2011, I distribute evaluation forms to our employers,” Davtian said. “When they come back, the evaluations about students are very low. They say students are unprepared and they’re not professional.”

Davtian said she’s seen an overall improvement.

“When I started in 2011 still the unemployment rate was quite high at that time for California and for Sacramento. There were a lot of students who were applying and they were unsuccessful,” Davtian said. “I definitely see that shift and I’m very happy for that.”

Professors at CRC said they are also pleased with the change they see.

“When you look back at the things our government’s done, it looks like they did a lot of the right things,” Fagin said. “Unemployment rates are down, prices seem stable, the housing market’s starting to bounce back, GDP is growing – all of those things seem to suggest we made some good moves, right? Only time will tell exactly what plays out, but it certainly feels pretty good.”