Unemployment dips in Gilroy

Gilroy
– The city’s unemployment rate dipped along with the rest of the
South Bay region in May, although the percentage of Gilroy’s work
force looking for jobs continued to exceed the national
average.
The city’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent last month,
compared to the national average of 5.1 percent during the same
period of time, according to the federal Bureau of Labor
Statistics.
Gilroy – The city’s unemployment rate dipped along with the rest of the South Bay region in May, although the percentage of Gilroy’s work force looking for jobs continued to exceed the national average.

The city’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent last month, compared to the national average of 5.1 percent during the same period of time, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Some of the growth is seasonal, but we’re seeing a slight increase (in jobs) overall,” said Rick Deraiche, director of the state Economic Development Department serving Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

The agency’s most recent statistics show slight growth throughout Silicon Valley and the South Bay region:

• Total number of jobs increased by 4,900 between April and May 2005

• Manufacturing increased by 1,300 jobs, mostly in computer and electronic products

• Leisure and hospitality added 1,400 jobs

• Educational health services grew by 400 jobs

Derrek Milan, a senior partner with Korn Ferry, an executive search firm, said the company has seen a substantial increase of hiring in technology in the last year, with Silicon Valley outpacing the rest of the country. The area is up 18 or 19 percent in hiring across all job types, Milan said, ranging from engineers to chief information officers.

The area of finance within the high tech industry has seen the fastest growth, he said, with increases of 45 percent driven by new compliance and auditing requirements.

“For at least the next six to nine months, we’re going to power through with similar growth,” Milan predicted. “We tend to see major slowdowns right around this time frame and that really hasn’t happened this year.”

Other areas of the employment sector have not faired so well. Government jobs in Santa Clara and San Benito counties declined between April and May by 1,500 positions, with two-thirds of those on the local level, according to EDD statistics. And despite the addition of 1,400 leisure and hospitality jobs, the overall market has shrunk by 2,100 positions since the same time last year.

Gilroy has had a mixed share in such numbers. The technology bust helped drive the city’s unemployment rate to 12 percent in 2002, while the city’s manufacturing base took a big hit in 2003 with the closing of Indian Motorcycles, which had employed about 380 area workers.

Those setbacks have been offset in part of by the city’s ability to attract retail and service industry employers. In recent weeks, the opening of Johnny Carino’s and Mimi’s Cafe in the Gilroy Crossing shopping center added dozens of restaurant positions, while an expanded Wal-Mart Supercenter will bring 230 additional jobs to the local market in September.

The city has pushed to help local residents find work at retail employers through training partnerships between the Economic Development Corporation and Gilroy One Stop, a job-training and employment center off Arroyo Circle.

While lauding the sales tax revenues and entry-level positions generated by retails, officials have their sites set on landing corporate employers that offer higher salaries and benefits. The city hopes to fill thousands of square feet of unused corporate space through a partnership with Gavilan College’s Small Business Development and Education Center.

“When the dot-com bomb hit, I started looking for ways to assist people who lost their jobs to pick up the slack in the high tech industry,” said Richard Gillis, director of the school’s small business development center. “One of our focuses has been biotechnology, as well as a small business and international trade center… We’re looking to improve economic development and education. Our main thrust is to identify businesses that are high growth, assist them with development, and encourage them to come to the area.”

Larry Cope, the city’s incoming economic development director, has said he will focus on developing relationships with corporations, especially those in the high-tech industry to attract higher paying jobs to Gilroy.

Whether a high-tech firm or Target, officials agree on a single goal for the city’s employment and economic development agencies.

“If we’re going to attract those jobs here,” Gillis said, “we’ve got to make sure we train the workforce.”

To learn more about area employment opportunities or training, visit Silicon Valley Workforce Investment Network, or contact the www.svwin.org.s

To learn more about starting a small business in Gilroy, visit Gavilan’s small business development center at www.gavilansbdc.org.

Labor statistics for the City of Gilroy

Date • Labor Force • Employed • Unemployed • Rate

2002 • 21,100 • 18,600 • 2,500 • 12 percent

2003 • 20,200 • 17,800 • 2,400 • 12 percent

2004 • 19,500 • 17,700 • 1,800 • 9.4 percent

March ’05 • 19,200 • 17,600 • 1,600 • 8.1 percent

April ’05 • 19,000 • 17,600 • 1,400 • 7.6 percent

May ’05 • 19,100 • 17,700 • 1,400 • 7.2 percent

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