As the U.S. economic recovery picks up speed, workers in California are finding new opportunities for jobs. Some of the industries that are growing fastest are familiar on the California business scene, while some are relative newcomers. Here are some of the trends that will become predominant over the next few years.
The scientific and technical fields showed the greatest number of new hires in 2012. With Silicon Valley and several top universities located in the state of California, it has been a center for the creation and growth of start-ups and technology companies for decades. California is encouraging the growth of innovative new start-ups and small businesses with the iHub program, an initiative that brings together local governments, economic development groups, venture capitalists, and other investors and entrepreneurs to support the creation and growth of new business. Many of the fastest-growing industries for small businesses in the U.S. fall into technical categories, such as software development firms, hardware vendors, technical support providers, and other technical consulting services.
Service industries are among the fastest-growing industries in California, according to the number of new jobs added. This is partly driven by a return of travelers to California beaches, resorts, and other travel destinations. According to the Los Angeles Times, the leisure and hospitality sector added the largest number of jobs during 2012. An increased number of jobs is positive for lowering the overall unemployment rate, but it also creates a larger number of workers employed in part-time jobs for relatively low pay.
Construction is a growing industry, although progress is not smooth. The construction job market has been fairly volatile, showing increases and decreases from month to month. However, as the housing market recovers, construction crews are back at work and employing new workers to meet demand. General and specialty construction, as well as the civil engineering construction industry, are in the top 10 industries ranked by number of jobs added in 2012, according to Statistic Brain.
The solar power industry is growing quickly in the United States, driven by lower costs to install solar systems as well as subsidies and grants that encourage homeowners and others to install solar systems. California is in the lead in adding jobs in the solar industry, with over 10,000 individuals employed in solar-related jobs, according to Climate Progress. With greater public consciousness about the need for clean, renewable energy, this industry is going to continue growing into the future. Having a strong solar power industry is especially important for states that have high energy demands, and California is one of those states. California is also poised to take great advantage of solar power, especially Southern California, which has an abundance of clear, sunny days. Growth in the solar industry can help California meet its demand for energy, as well as provide jobs for thousands of Californians.
Health care is another growing sector of the state’s economy, especially home-based health care. As the population ages, many individuals are looking for options to remain more independent in their later years. Home-based health care is an attractive option for many people, especially compared with traditional nursing homes. Despite the economic recession and high unemployment rates of recent years, the health care sector continued to add jobs as the population of individuals older than 65 continues to grow. The issue of home health care may also become a frequent topic among policymakers because not all parts of the home health care industry are well regulated. There is insufficient data regarding the quality of care that is provided to disabled and elderly individuals, and there are also issues with low pay rates for home health care workers and domestic aides. As more and more people want to stay in their own homes as they age and manage health concerns, there will be greater demand for home health care providers and domestic aides. This will be a source of opportunity for new jobs in these industries, but there also needs to be better regulation to monitor and support these important workers.
California is recovering from the economic downturn, and these industries are helping by adding many jobs. The technology and scientific fields, construction, solar power, leisure and recreation, and home health care are important industries that are driving growth, putting people to work, and building the state’s economy.