SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Economists are warning local leaders not to get comfortable with the declining unemployment numbers in the Sacramento region and across the country.
The unemployment rate dropped in March to 4.9 percent, down nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. But for youth in the area, jobs may still be hard to come by.
“There is a lot to look forward to when I graduate, you know,” said Regina Pacheco, a senior at Sacramento State University.
“Start getting a job, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life,” she continued.
Pacheco worries there won’t be quality jobs for her when she graduates.
According to a report compiled by the Sacramento Business Journal, the youth unemployment rate in the Sacramento Region is one of the highest in the country at 16.5 percent and the number is well above the national average of 11.6 percent.
“I would hope there would be some jobs available for me to start my life with,” said Pacheco.
On the contrary, unemployment numbers in Sacramento and across the country continue to fall, but there is a catch.
“Many of the jobs that came back, came back at the low end of the wage distribution,” said Dr. Sanjay Varshney, a finance professor at Sacramento State.
Low-paying retail and service jobs are out there, but Varshney says high-paying positions are still lacking.
“We’re seeing a lot of losses in jobs in the private sector from Sacramento,” he explained.
Earlier this month, AeroJet announced it was pulling 1,100 jobs from the area.
“We have not been able to diversify our economy,” said Varshney, “we have not been able to attract large or even midsize employers.”
“We have been recruiting a lot more diversity of jobs and our residents are getting better skills,” said Christopher Cabaldon the Mayor of West Sacramento.
Cabaldon says his city has bounced back. In 2010 unemployment was near 20 percent The number is now below 7 percent.
He says West Sacramento has pulled in some large companies, and there is a ballot initiative aims to prepare the workforce for those jobs.
“Paid internships for high school students in careers and provide free community college and college scholarships,” explained Cabaldon.
While momentum is moving in the right direction, economists say local leaders must keep pressing.
“We’ve got to keep at it,” Cabaldon agreed. “This is a moment to say, we’re making progress, but even at 7 percent unemployment, it’s not enough to celebrate.”