On the Road to Recovery
While no one is claiming that California's economic recovery is exactly going gangbusters, the state Employment Development Department says better times are just around the corner. In a special Labor Day report, the EDD contends that "California's job market continues to be stronger than the nation as a whole" - with the state job count down only 0.2 percent versus a 1.0 drop nationally. "The current economic recession is behind us and employment growth in California will increase," promises the EDD, which points out that the economy has been generating 1500 new positions a month - compared to a loss of 2200 jobs per month last year. Economists predict that California nonfarm job growth will exceed 2 percent in 2003.
On the Job Front
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - Wells Fargo is looking to hire 300 branch workers statewide to sell loans and consumer services. The expansion is aimed at fending off competition from Bank of America and Citigroup . . . Talks have resumed between West Coast dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association. Laborers remain on the job, although - since they lack a contract - they can legally strike or initiate a work slowdown at any time. With an estimated four million jobs dependent on goods coming through West Coast ports, the impact of any work stoppage could be far-reaching, affecting employment well beyond the docks . . . United Airlines resumed talks with its labor unions in hopes of winning payroll concessions, and avoiding bankruptcy. United is a major employer in Northern California . . . It's the end of the road for 850 Consolidated Freightways employees in Brisbane, Hayward, Richmond, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Stockton and Sacramento. The trucking company, which filed for Chapter-11 bankruptcy protection, laid off a total of 15,500 people nationwide and plans to liquidate its assets . . . California Governor Gray Davis last week signed a $98-billion state budget that calls for $9 billion in spending cuts and the elimination of 7000 state jobs.
EL DORADO HILLS - Caught in a financial undertow, Ocean Power has reduced its staff to five people. At one time, the power and seawater desalination company employed 34.
MENLO PARK - To put it bluntly, Nuance Communications Inc has fired 90 workers - almost one-quarter of its staff. The company develops voice interface software.
ROSEVILLE - Interior design retailer Expo Design Center, a subsidiary of Home Depot, will open its first location in the area on October 19th with 140 employees.
SACRAMENTO - Two competing women's fitness centers are pumping up their presence in the area during the next 18 months. Curves for Women will be adding 20 outlets to its current 30, while Contours Express will enter the market for the first time with four locations.
SAN JOSE - Notify Technology Corp, a communications software maker, delivered some unpleasant news to nine workers it fired, a 28-percent cutback . . . Netro Corporation is reducing its net payroll by eliminating 50 people, leaving the wireless broadband products maker with 250 employees . . . Ultratech Stepper, maker of equipment to make microchips, will eliminate 50 positions in response to the prolonged slump in computer demand.
SANTA CLARA - Sonicblue Inc, maker of Rio digital music players, is laying off 25 percent of its workforce which numbered between 350 and 400 workers.