The Bay Area posted strong job gains in March, a report released Friday showed, suggesting the region's job market has resumed its upward trajectory after a setback in February. The Bay Area now has added jobs for 20 of the past 21 months.

"The Bay Area jobs recovery has legs," said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive and founder of Walnut Creek-based investment firm Destination Wealth Management. "Technology is continuing to drive hiring. And tech hiring will bring in hiring from other industries."

What's more, the Bay Area appears to be the primary propellant for the job growth that has occurred in California over the past 12 months.

The Bay Area and California posted strong job gains during March, a report released Friday confirmed.
The Bay Area and California posted strong job gains during March, a report released Friday confirmed. (Steven Senne/AP file)

The Bay Area added nearly 86,000 jobs in the one-year period that ended in March, while California added nearly 286,000 jobs. That means the Bay Area accounted for 30 percent of the job gains statewide -- although the region has only 22 percent of all the jobs that exist in the state.

Employers in the Bay Area added 4,200 jobs in March, according to the state Employment Development Department. That compares with a drop of 3,300 jobs in February.

The South Bay gained 1,900 jobs and the East Bay added 1,200. And despite being considerably smaller than the Bay Area's three primary urban centers, Solano County gained a sturdy 1,000 jobs in March. The San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region lost 300 jobs. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal variations.

"Things are definitely moving in the right direction," said Jordan Levine, an economist and director of research with Beacon Economics. "The South Bay continues strong job gains. Now the East Bay is showing a nice jump."

California added 25,500 jobs in March, the EDD reported. That follows a gain of 37,400 jobs in the state in February.

The unemployment rate in California improved to 9.4 percent in March, the EDD reported. The statewide jobless rate was 9.6 percent in February. California's jobless rate remains stubbornly worse than the nationwide rate of 7.6 percent.

The East Bay jobless rate was 7.8 percent in March, compared with 8.1 percent in February, while the South Bay posted a 7.3 percent rate, compared with 7.6 percent in February, and the San Francisco metro area reported a 5.8 percent rate, better than the 6 percent in February, the EDD reported.

Nationwide, employers added 88,000 jobs in March, the U.S. Labor Department reported earlier this month. That was a sharp slowdown from the gain of 268,000 jobs in February.

"There is no question now that California is emerging again as an economic growth leader," Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, wrote Friday as part of his analysis of the employment report. "The California economy continues to outpace the nation."

Over the 12 months that ended in March, job totals increased by 2 percent in California and by 1.4 percent in the nation.

The Bay Area, South Bay, San Francisco region, and even the battered East Bay are all showing stronger growth rates than the nation.

During the most recent 12 months ending in March, the South Bay job base grew by 3.3 percent, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region by 2.8 percent, the East Bay by 1.9 percent and the Bay Area by 2.7 percent, this newspaper's analysis of the EDD figures shows.

"The job gains are solid in the Bay Area," said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West. "It may not be a golden recovery. But it's at least a bronze or a silver medal."

"There are no signs of recession in the Bay Area," Anderson added. "There is some weakness in manufacturing. But overall there are no real red flags."

Contact George Avalos at 408-373-3556 or 925-977-8477. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.