Construction staffing rose in February in Napa County, California, and the unemployment rate dropped during that period. This local improvement in the construction sector coincided with job growth across the state.
Data released by California's Employment Development Department (EDD) in Sacramento indicated that the number of construction positions in Napa County rose to 2,700 in February from 2,300 in January, according to the Napa Valley Register. The employment for the sector rose 17.4 percent from the previous month, and 22.7 percent from the same time last year.
The improvement in Napa County's construction employment coincided with a jobless rate that dropped to 8.9 percent in February from 9.2 percent the previous month, the media outlet reports. The region's jobless rate was more than 1 percentage point lower than the rate of 10.2 percent that it had during the same month last year.
California's EDD said that the state added 4,000 nonfarm jobs to payrolls since the survey conducted in January, according to The Associated Press. This improvement extends the gains made in January, when the state added 1,500 positions. Since the California government officially recognized the state's recession as being over in September 2009, a total of 333,100 jobs have been created in the state.
Bruce Wilson, director of the Napa County Workforce Investment Board, Napa Valley Register that the growth in local construction jobs is uplifting, and that expansion in the sector is critical as construction has traditionally served as a "backbone" of the local economy. He said that the job growth in the industry came as a surprise, and that it went against the traditional loss of construction jobs that happens during the winter.
"This time of year, I would expect the same as last month, but it's a wonderful surprise," Wilson stated, according to the media outlet. "I think it reflects business confidence."
Data provided by a federal survey indicates that California's economy employed 16.5 million people in February, which was 12,000 more than the previous month, The Associated Press reports. Unemployment claims dropped during the period, declining to 55,287 in February from 59,344 in January.
One example of a local employer looking to add construction jobs is Andrews & Thornley Construction, according to Napa Valley Register. Tom Andrews told the media outlet that the plans to take on one or two more people in 2012, compared to flat hiring over the last few years. He stated that "we're starting some work." The company recently started working on a winery that exists in Oakville.
Andrews told the news source that his firm does commercial work and not residential, but he stated that he has knowledge of various wineries that are being built in the area and $10 million mansions, as well as progress that is being made on Queen of the Valley Medical Center.
Officials from various small businesses that are supported by improvements in construction also told the media outlet that conditions are improving. Steve Silva of Steve Silva Plumbing stated that business for his firm had shown a modest improvement.
He said that plumbing businesses might not benefit from improvements in construction right away, according to the news source. "We've just been able to do a little more work with the crew we have." Even though his business has shown modest improvement, he said that he is optimistic about the construction staffing that has been happening recently in Napa County.