The Bay Area posted sturdy job gains in April, and the region now has recaptured 80 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession, an analysis of a state government report released Friday shows.
Employers in the Bay Area added 2,600 jobs in April, the state's Employment Development Department said.
The East Bay added 1,300 jobs and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region gained 2,600 jobs, while the South Bay lost 1,800 jobs, according to the EDD report. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal gains.
Analysts pointed out that the South Bay's employment setbacks were concentrated in industries outside of high tech, which has been the driver of the South Bay's recovery.
"The tech rebound remains firmly in place," said Jeffrey Michael, director of the Stockton-based Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific.
Health care lost 800 jobs in the South Bay, arts and entertainment shed 500 jobs and government agencies lost 400 jobs, a Beacon Economics analysis of the EDD data showed.
Overall, the Bay Area lost almost 278,000 jobs in the recession, measured from the employment peak of February 2008 to the jobs trough of August 2010. Since hitting bottom, it has added nearly 221,000 jobs, or about 80 percent of the losses, this newspaper's analysis of the EDD figures shows.
In February, the South Bay regained all the jobs it lost in the downturn. The San Francisco region is close to a full recovery, while the East Bay still has a way to go before it recaptures the jobs it lost during the recession, Michael said.
Jordan Levine, director of research and an economist with Beacon Economics, cautioned that the area is "still in recovery mode," adding that "the pace of the recovery is rather tepid."
Based on job gains over the past year, it would take the Bay Area another nine to 10 months to regain all the jobs that vanished in the downturn.
The Bay Area's 2.3 percent job growth over the past year compares favorably with California's 1.9 percent job growth and the nation's 1.6 percent.
"The Bay Area is still outperforming the nation," said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West. But he added, "We are seeing some signs of a slowdown in the rate of growth in the Bay Area."
The gains in the East Bay were fueled by construction, which added 900 jobs, and health care, also up 900.
The San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region was bolstered primarily by a gain of 1,300 construction jobs and 800 more jobs in the tech-focused professional, scientific and technical services sector.
California added 10,400 jobs in April, the EDD reported, improving the state's jobless rate to 9 percent, down from 9.4 percent in April.
In the Bay Area, jobless rates in April were 7.8 percent in the East Bay, down from 8.2 percent in March; 7.2 percent in the South Bay, down from 7.5 percent in March; and 5.7 percent in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region, down from 6 percent.
The South Bay may have been able to improve its unemployment rate despite a loss of payroll jobs because more people are working as independent contractors or running one-employee businesses, according to Michael Bernick, a fellow with the Milken Institute, and a former director of the EDD. Those kinds of job gains are included in the jobless rate but not in the payroll numbers.
"The falling unemployment rates only capture part of what is going on," Bernick said. "More people are working part time, although they are counted as employed. The quality of the jobs might not be improving as fast as the jobless rate."
Contact George Avalos at 408-373-3556 or 925-977-8477. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.