San Diego's job market outpaced state and national averages last month, thanks to relatively strong hiring in construction sites, hospitals and research laboratories.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the county added 7,100 new jobs in March, resulting in an annualized growth rate of 2.5 percent, compared to 2.2 percent statewide and 1.7 percent nationwide.
That helped push the jobless rate down from 7 percent in February to 6.9 percent in March -- or 6.8 percent after adjusting for seasonal fluctuations, according to Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University at the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute.
That is nearly identical with the nation's 6.7 percent seasonally adjusted average and much better than California's 8.1 percent rate.
"Job gains (in San Diego County) took place in every major sector last month," Reaser said. "While more people were encouraged to look for work, even more found jobs."
Some of the biggest growth last month came from construction, which added 2,000 jobs; health care, 1,400; professional, scientific and technical services, 800; and manufacturing, 500. Construction employment has grown 10 percent over the past year, ranging from 19 percent growth in heavy and civil engineering projects to 4.5 percent growth among specialty trade contractors.
"San Diego's positive signs in the job market could be a sign of improving confidence on the part of the region's businesses and will be an important driver of consumer spending, home-buying, and other vital aspects of the economy's return to full health," she said.