The Bay Area added more than 11,000 jobs in December, led by a big surge in Santa Clara County and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region that drove the unemployment rates in those two regions to five-year lows, a new report released Friday shows.

The East Bay, however, lost jobs in December as that region continued to lag the robust gains in the South Bay and San Francisco metro area.

"The contrast is striking. The South Bay and the San Francisco metro area are the major job engines for the entire state, while the East Bay is one of the weakest," said Jeffrey Michael, director of the Stockton-based Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific.

The most recent report from the state's Employment Development Department underscores the Bay Area's role as the primary leader in job creation for California.

The 11,200 jobs that the Bay Area gained last month represented more than 80 percent of the employment gains in all of California, which added 13,600 jobs, the EDD reported. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.

And during 2013, the Bay Area and South Bay also outpaced the rate of job creation nationwide and statewide, this newspaper's analysis of the EDD report shows.

Last year, total payroll jobs increased by 3.4 percent in Santa Clara County, 2.6 percent in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin area, 2.1 percent in the Bay Area, and by 1.6 percent in California and the United States. The East Bay managed a feeble gain of 0.2 percent in its job totals for 2013.


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"The boom in Santa Clara County is going to continue," said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West. "The world comes to Silicon Valley to learn about technology. Santa Clara County is really the New York City of high tech."

During 2014, job totals should increase by 3 percent in Santa Clara County, 2 percent in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin area and by 1.7 percent in the East Bay, Anderson predicted.

"I'm optimistic the job surge has legs in the Bay Area," said Jon Haveman, chief economist with Marin Consulting in San Rafael. "What is created here is on the economic frontier of the products and services that are in demand throughout the world."

Santa Clara County added 5,800 jobs in December and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin area gained 5,500 jobs, the EDD reported. The East Bay lost 500 jobs.

The statewide jobless rate improved to 8.3 percent in December, down from 8.5 percent in November.

Jobless rates also improved sharply throughout the Bay Area in December, according to an analysis of the EDD figures compiled by Beacon Economics. Jobless rates in the South Bay and the San Francisco area are now at the lowest they have been since June 2008, Beacon reported.

In December, the jobless rate in the East Bay was 6.5 percent, down from 6.9 percent in November. The Santa Clara County jobless rate was 6 percent, down from 6.4 percent. The San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin jobless rate was 4.8 percent, down from 5.1 percent, Beacon reported.

"This is being driven by high tech and now the employment boom in tech is spilling over into other sectors," said Jordan Levine, an economist and Beacon's director of economic research. "The tech sector is leasing a lot of space, so that is helping commercial real estate and construction."

In a sign the recovery has broadened beyond high tech, Santa Clara County added 2,100 manufacturing jobs -- although much of that is tech-related hiring. The South Bay also gained 1,400 health care jobs, 800 construction jobs and 500 retail jobs in December, Beacon reported. The San Francisco area added 900 construction jobs.

"Business investment and industrial production is growing," Levine said. "During 2014, that will spur additional demand for computer equipment, software and technology services. Those all play in particular to the strength of the South Bay."

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167; follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.