All of the dozen nonfarm-labor industries tracked in Merced County are projected to add jobs, according to a 10-year projection this month from the state Employment Development Department.
That sort of across-the-board growth is uncommon, according to officials, which is perhaps a good sign for a county with a perennially high jobless rate.
Private education, health care and other social services will generate about 2,000 new jobs in Merced County between 2012 and 2022, making those areas combined the fastest-growing sector. Manufacturing and retail trade are each expected to add 1,700 positions, and leisure and hospitality is projected to add 1,400 jobs.
The largest number of job openings in Merced County will come from occupations requiring the lowest level of education and offering some of the lowest pay rates, which is in line with much of the San Joaquin Valley, according to labor market analyst George Marley.
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Jobs at the lower end of the spectrum tend to have a higher turnover rate, he said.
Where Merced differed from other counties was the expectation that all nonfarm sectors are supposed to see growth. “For the most part, all these numbers are predicting good growth – or at least in a positive direction,” he said. “Not all areas (counties) have that.”
The estimated total number of nonfarm jobs in 2012 was 58,800. The number is projected to reach 69,600 by 2022. Marley noted the report is updated every two years by EDD, which conducts surveys with employers in counties throughout California.
The estimated 10,800 more jobs by the end of the decade would be an 18.4 percent increase.
The specific occupation to grow the fastest, according to the report, will be personal care aides. Marley said that’s a reflection of the aging baby boomer population’s need for in-home care.
The jobs projected to have the most openings are:
▪ Farm laborers, 2,250 openings, median hourly wage of $8.95.
▪ Cashiers, 1,460 openings, median hourly wage of $9.32.
▪ Personal care aides, 1,110 openings, median hourly wage of $9.92.
▪ Food service workers, 1,050 openings, median hourly wage of $9.14.
▪ Retail salespeople, 1,050 openings, median hourly wage of $9.52.
Eighteen percent of the fastest-growing jobs are in the service industry.
The state’s economy as a whole is expected to maintain its positive momentum this year, according to the latest projection from the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific. The center reported that counties around the state – including Merced County – are forecast to grow their nonfarm payrolls between 1 percent and 3 percent each year through 2019.
The forecast also calls for Merced County’s unemployment rate to continue to trend downward. The county’s jobless rate is 12.7 percent, according to the most recent numbers from the EDD.
“In the Central Valley, job growth decelerated by about a percentage point in 2014 from the strong growth experienced in 2013,” the forecast said. “Considering the drought and the weakness in homebuilding in 2014, the slight slowdown was unsurprising.”
Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.
Fastest growth and most openings
▪ Nonfarm employment is projected to grow by nearly 10,800 jobs by 2022.
▪ The state jobs projection says the “private education, health care and other social services” industry in Merced County will generate about 2,000 new jobs in the decade, representing about a 25.3 percent growth.
▪ Farm labor is forecast to have the largest number of job openings over the 10-year period, at 2,250.
▪ None of the five occupations with the most projected job openings from 2012 to 2022 — farm labor, personal care aides, cashiers, retail salesperson and food service workers — require a high school diploma. All five have a median hourly wage of under $10.