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County jobless rate drops to 6%

The oncoming tourism season pushed San Diego County's official jobless rate down to 6 percent in April, driven by seasonal hiring at hotels, restaurants and retail shops, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

But those numbers disguise weaknesses in construction, manufacturing and scientific research, which each slid slightly during the month.

"San Diego's jobs report for April was bullish, just like that for the nation released two weeks ago," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University at the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute. "It just was not as favorable as it might appear at face value."

After weeding out seasonally related job gains, the local jobless rate would be more like 6.3 percent, putting the county on par with the national average, Reaser said.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the county added 1,700 jobs in April, compared to the unadjusted total of 2,900. Since April 2013, San Diego has added 29,000 jobs, "which represents a solid advance," Reaser said.

Thanks mostly to the spring break season capped by a late Easter, the leisure and hospitality industry reported the greatest gains, adding 3,100 jobs during April, including 1,000 in full-service restaurants; 700 at amusement, gambling and recreation sites; and 600 at hotels.

The 1,700 new jobs during the month mostly were in the following categories:

• Retail: 1,100 new jobs. Most of the growth came at auto dealerships, food and beverage stores, and building material and gardening outlets, with each category adding 200 jobs.

• Wholesale trade: 900

• Social assistance: 500

• Real estate rental and leasing: 300

• Transportation and warehousing: 300

• Insurance and securities: 200

On the other hand, the state calculates that there were 1,500 job losses in local professional, scientific and technical services, including 400 in scientific research and development services. But Reaser cautioned that the monthly data can swing wildly from month to month. Even with the April dip, R&D work has increased 5.1 percent over the past year, adding 1,500 jobs.

"Technology is San Diego's and California's trump card and we are playing it well," Reaser said.

Other job losses during the month included:

• Ambulatory health care services: 700

• Construction: 400, with the job losses evenly split between building construction crews and building equipment contractors.

• Manufacturing: 300

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