Information businesses, including software publishers, and building construction are setting the job-growth pace
By Sharon Simonson
New economy is driving old in San Francisco, making the county the fastest growing in the country as measured by annual employment gains.
Travis County, home to Austin, Texas, and another U.S. technology industry center, is the country’s second-fastest growing. Information businesses are among those adding jobs in the home county of the University of Texas, but businesses in other sectors are adding them faster.
According to industry data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau on the 50 largest U.S. counties by employment, companies that specialize in Internet publishing including online software sellers and web-search portals are adding workers at the fastest pace of any in San Francisco.
The city’s construction sector is adding workers at the second-fastest rate, especially those putting up new buildings as well as completing additions, alterations, repairs and maintenance to the existing building stock.
San Francisco’s information sector, its second largest by payroll size at $10.55 billion, grew 252 percent from 2010 through 2014, the new county-level business data show. The information sector grew more than 200 percent in San Mateo County in the same time, reaching an annual payroll of $10.3 billion.
That compared to 83.5 percent growth in Santa Clara County’s information sector in the same five years and 31 percent growth nationally. The information sector is Santa Clara County’s largest with a $20 billion payroll in 2014.
The Information sector encompasses businesses engaged in producing and distributing information, including operating web sites and storing, searching and retrieving information, and publishing cultural products such as literary journals and popular magazines.
Alameda and Santa Clara counties, home to Oakland and San Jose, are the sixth and eighth fastest growing U.S. counties as measured by job growth, the Census Bureau said. Health care and social assistance, the largest industry cluster nationally, is Alameda County’s second-largest. The sector, which includes a spectrum of services delivered by trained professionals including medical care, is growing faster in Alameda County than the nation at large.
The same is true in San Mateo County, where the wholesale trade sector’s payroll more than doubled from 2010 to 2014 while growing less than 20 percent nationally. Wholesale trade businesses generally broker goods for sale to other businesses or manufacturers, including high-value, durable, non-consumer goods.
Travis County is part of the rapidly growing Austin-Round Rock metro area, whose population topped 2 million people for the first time in 2015, according to recent population estimates. While the information sector is also leading growth there, it is not the fastest growing as measured by percent change in employment. That honor belongs to the real estate and rental and leasing sector.
For the county business pattern research, the Census Bureau defines employment as full- and part-time employees who were on the payroll during the pay period that includes March 12. It excludes business owners who are self-employed, employees of private households, railroads, agricultural production workers and most government employees.