The nation created about 155,000 jobs last month, according to the federal government, which a Santa Clarita economist said Friday was a positive number, but not necessarily a sign that the economy is out of the woods just yet.
“At a macro level, its a good number,” said Steve Tannehill, executive director at Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons. “You’ll here people talk about different numbers that are needed — jobs that are needed to be created to keep up with population growth.”
Generally, about 90,000 jobs are needed each month in order to keep up with the number of people who are entering the workforce.
However, during the Great Recession, approximately 8 million jobs were lost, and so far, only about half of those have been replaced, Tannehill said.
“We’re making progress, but it’s still slow,” he explained. “If you look at the big picture on jobs, most sectors are back to where they were before — most notably health care.”
But he followed that with an important caution.
“The two big sectors that are still down are manufacturing and construction,” he said. “Those are very, very important to the economy.”
Locally, there are several cutting edge programs, such as the CNC machining program at College of the Canyons, that are geared toward addressing this needed growth, he said.
Part of the issue in addressing that is how to compensate for automation replacing so many jobs, he added.
Manufacturing nationwide, and in Santa Clarita, as well, has picked up, he said. But the growth in robotics programs, which are also available locally, require fewer and fewer employees.
The same can be said for the technology sector, he said.
“It’s been a little challenging for our economy, because a lot of the new endeavors — Facebook, Google and Amazon — aren’t creating the jobs that big businesses used to create,” he said.
And construction, which is still down, is perhaps the biggest indicator due to the corollary activity that comes with new home sales, such as furniture purchases and other home furnishings.
“If you’re building houses, there’s a lot of economic activity that follows, and then the other element to that is that they tend to be high-paying jobs,” he said. “So if you’re losing those and replacing them with retail, it’s going to be a long road back.”