Tech Helps Give West Best U.S. Job Growth

Gary Schlossberg, an economist at Wells Fargo in San Francisco, doesn’t have to look far to see how the innovation and entrepreneurship in California are helping the West lead the nation’s job growth.

“Tech certainly is a driver,” Schlossberg said of the industry feeding an insatiable global appetite for tablets and apps and everything else made of chips and code. “Just look at the rents, and the restaurants at night, it’s all being driven by tech growth and the spillover from that.”

Even though Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter help make California’s $1.96 trillion economy bigger than India’s, the Golden State can use the tailwind.

The largest U.S. state, with 37.7 million residents, has a 9.8 percent unemployment rate that’s the third highest in the country. That level also is the average since government began calculating the level for states in 1976. The U.S. average for the same period is 6.5 percent.

Western states, where unemployment was highest after the nation’s housing bubble burst in 2006, are leading the country in hiring as industries from homebuilding to technology add staff, helping erase the pain left over in places where real estate prices plunged most: Las Vegas, southern California and Arizona.

Nevada’s unemployment dropped 2.4 percentage points in the year ended November 2012, the most of any state, to 10.8 percent, though it’s still the highest in the U.S.

Joblessness in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Idaho also dropped at least 1 percentage point. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the national unemployment rate held at a four-year low of 7.7 percent in December. The Labor Department releases the figures Friday.

Bloomberg’s Steve Matthews, Aki Ito and Amanda Crawford have the full story.

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