Top-employing industries primed to grow

Good news for job seekers with chops: Three out of four of San Francisco and the Peninsula’s largest industries are hiring competitively — and the largest, hospitality, is holding steady except in some hotel and management positions for which there are a shortage of qualified candidates.

“Absolutely, hiring is up,” said Adele Alvarez, director of business operations at consultant-management firm TEKsystems. “We started to see a bit of an increase in hiring at the tail end of last year. Middle of the second quarter [of this year] it started to take off and hasn’t looked back.”

As determined by a review of employment statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s county economic statistics report, the largest private-sector industry in The City and San Mateo County together is hospitality, a category that includes the massive food-service industry — with its 64,000-plus jobs — and the accommodations industry, which employs more than 23,000 people.

The next biggest sectors are medicine, which includes hospitals and outpatient services; finance; and computer systems design.

Banks and financial services firms ranging from giant Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) to small startup New Resource Bank reported that they are hiring. The tech industry is actively hunting for programmers, fueled by demand in everything from software upgrades to virtualization, Web widgets and mobile-phone advertising.

And in medicine, a challenging market continues to plague hospitals and medical groups seeking nurses and primary care physicians, administrators said.

“I do know there is a shortage of primary care physicians. There is a lot of competition to hire them,” said Debbie Goodin, a vice president at Mills-Peninsula Health Services, a Sutter Health company that runs Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame and Mills Health Center in San Mateo.

Meanwhile, while restaurant employment and the job market have been generally flat for the last few years, restaurateurs are having a harder time filling management jobs, Golden Gate Restaurant Association President Kevin Westlye said.

He attributes the trend to high staff pay based on the more-than-$9-an-hour San Francisco minimum wage plus tips, particularly at fancier establishments where tips are large. That pay, which allows employees to be comfortable without working more than 40 hours a week, makes management’s 50-hour-plus workweeks less attractive, he said.

While these four industries are the biggest nongovernment employers overall, looking at both San Francisco and San Mateo counties together elides some differences between them.

San Francisco’s biggest industries do include food services, hospitals and outpatient services, credit intermediation and securities, and hotels, but far fewer people there are employed in computer systems design than in law, architecture and engineering, scientific and management consulting or social assistance.

San Mateo County has far more computer programming businesses than The City. But the county’s second-largest employing industry — air travel — provides fewer than 1,000 jobs in San Francisco. Other major fields in both counties include retail stores, particularly in clothing and accessories, and scientific research, including biotechnology.

Though employers in San Francisco and the Peninsula spoke of a competitive market and hiring, that may not be the case throughout the region, according to the Bay Area Council.

The nonprofit business group’s quarterly CEO survey, released Friday, showed a decrease in hospitality and leisure jobs throughout the nine-county Bay Area, and increased pessimism by some executives. However, the majority of San Francisco and San Mateo County executives said they still expected steady or increased work-force levels.

The big four

Industries employing the most workers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties*

Hospitality:87,989 Food services and accommodations

Medicine: 54,361 Hospitals and walk-in services

Finance: 51,452 Securities, credit intermediation and related services

Computer systems design: 21,062

*Calculation combines San Francisco and San Mateo counties, certain related categories.

Economic engines

A look at changes in the industries that employ the workers of The City and the Peninsula

Today: Introduction

Tuesday: Hospitality

Wednesday: Health care

Thursday: Finance

Friday: Technology

kwilliamson@examiner.com

businessBusiness & Real Estate

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