The Bay Area economy in 2012 powered to its strongest job performance since the dot-com boom, a state government report showed Friday, a clear indication that the region has emerged from the Great Recession.
The nine-county region added 91,400 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted figures released Friday by the state's Employment Development Department. That was the best annual gain since 2000, when the Bay Area added 129,000 jobs at the apex of the dot-com surge.
"It was a good year for the Bay Area," said Jeffrey Michael, director of the Stockton-based Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific. "What made 2012 stronger is the East Bay finally began to grow jobs and join the South Bay and San Francisco."
The Bay Area created 40 percent of all the jobs added in California during the year, this newspaper's analysis of the EDD report shows.
And that's no surprise to analysts.
The tech sectors of Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the Peninsula are more dynamic than other industries, whose bosses are more cautious amid an uncertain economy, opined Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of Walnut Creek-based Destination Wealth Management.
"Technology is an industry that requires quick action and rapid employment when opportunities present themselves," Yoshikami said. "Other parts of the country may be waiting until they are sure about the economy. Silicon Valley isn't waiting for that. Tech companies are hiring
Job growth in the Bay Area expanded at a much faster pace than California and the nation. The South Bay added about 29,000 jobs, while the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region gained approximately 31,000 and the East Bay added about 21,000.
Those new jobs raised the total number of Bay Area jobs by 2.9 percent. The South Bay and the San Francisco metro area each produced a job gain of 3.2 percent, while the East Bay gained 2.3 percent.
California added 225,900 jobs in 2012, a gain of 1.9 percent. The United States last year increased its payroll job totals by 1.4 percent.
"This recovery started with the tech sector, and now it's spreading to other industries," said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West.
December, however, brought some hiccups to the job market in the Bay Area, the EDD reported.
The Bay Area lost 2,600 jobs last month when the numbers were adjusted for seasonal changes. The East Bay was particularly hard hit, with a loss of 1,900 jobs, while the South Bay lost 700 jobs. Sonoma County lost 1,200 jobs. The strongest urban center in the region was the San Francisco metro area, which gained 1,600 jobs.
December's job losses were triggered by weakness in the retail sector, which apparently did much less holiday season hiring than usual. Retailers shed 3,100 jobs in the Bay Area in December, according to seasonally adjusted numbers supplied by a Beacon Economics analysis of the EDD data.
California also suffered losses in December, shedding 17,500 jobs. The statewide unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.8 percent.
Jobless rates improved throughout the Bay Area in December, despite the job losses. Job gains and losses sometimes move in a different direction than the unemployment rate because the job totals are produced from payrolls kept by employers, while the jobless rate is derived from a survey of households.
The East Bay jobless rate was 8.6 percent in December, down from 8.7 percent in November. The South Bay rate was 7.9 percent, down from 8 percent. The San Francisco metro rate was 6.5 percent, down from 6.6 percent.
"The longer-term trend in the Bay Area remains a story of very positive job growth," said Michael Bernick, a research fellow with the Milken Institute. "It is the South Bay, it is San Francisco, and now it is the East Bay."
Contact George Avalos at 408-373-3556 or 925-977-8477. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.