Orange County bosses have clearly put the brakes on hiring in the first half of 2017.
Job growth has slowed to a pace not seen since the Great Recession ended. But we are still talking growth, just less of it.
In June, local employers had 1.59 million workers, and while that is up 19,000 in a year, it’s well below the 36,150 yearly hiring pace of the previous four years.
But I dug deeper into what I’ll call “hiring momentum” — this gap between the hiring pace of the past year compared to faster job growth in the June 2012 to June 2016 period. Countywide, we’ve witnessed a momentum loss of 17,510 hires this year, the 13th consecutive month of negative momentum after six years of gains.
The job market has been relatively quiet this year statewide and nationally, too. One key to Orange County’s moderate hiring is several industries that recently were powering fast job growth have significantly cooled, if not turned to trimming jobs.
Why? Part of the slowdown may be that staffing ramp-up has outpaced business realities. And some of it may be due to a brewing shortage of Orange County workers to hire.
I reviewed the latest the state’s employment data with my trusty spreadsheet to find major Orange County job categories suffering from the biggest “momentum loss” in hiring this year, noting June’s workforce size, one-year change in employment and how that compares with the previous four years.
Here are seven industries not hiring like they used to …
Healthcare and social assistance: With all the uncertainty over medical insurance coverage, this 177,000-worker niche is down 300 jobs in a year. That’s a stark contrast to a rising yearly pace of 6,200 jobs in 2012-16. It adds up to a momentum loss of 6,500 positions.
Leisure and hospitality: These 218,600 often low-paying, part-time jobs are part of the debate about the quality of recent job growth. Tourism’s cooling is partly to blame. One-year growth was 3,300 vs. 7,675 a year in 2012-16 for a momentum loss of 4,375 positions.
Retail trade: These 148,300 jobs are also criticized for low wages. Well, they’re 1,400 fewer retail positions this year vs. 2,000-a-year growth in 2012-16. Worker shortage could be a factor. Momentum loss: 3,400 positions.
Professional, scientific and technical services: 127,700 good-paying, white-collar office jobs fell by 300 in a year vs. the 3,550-a-year hiring pace of 2012-16. This momentum loss of 3,850 positions is a worrisome trend.