Move Over Logistics, Inland Empire Sees a Big Growth Bump in Healthcare Jobs


(This article was written by Jack Katzanek of The Press Enterprise, and published on March 11, 2019)

Reports on the Inland Empire’s job scene usually point workers to warehouses and truck depots. But in a surprising twist, the latest analysis of the region’s employment growth veers toward hospitals and clinics.

Inland Empire employers added 26,500 new jobs in 2018, according to revised state data released Friday, March 8, with the biggest percentage gain seen in health care services and social assistance, up 5.1 percent in January from 12 months earlier.

All told, there were 1,554,100 Inland Empire residents on payrolls in December vs. 12 months earlier, according to the Employment Development Department. January’s estimate shows a 1.8 percent increase over a 12-month period.

Another sizable increase was in professional business, scientific and technical services, which added 1,500 jobs, a 3.6 percent growth rate. Both those categories, in most cases, pay better than the logistics and transportation sector, which grew at a 3.1 percent clip.

“That’s very good news,” John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. “(Health care) is one of the best-paying of the higher-paying sectors.”

The report released Friday was revised factoring in more detailed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides a more accurate picture of California’s economy.

In January, Husing presented a snapshot on the region’s economy and said the number of Inland residents without health insurance had dropped significantly since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. About 302,000 still had no health coverage in late 2018, down from 750,000 in 2012.

That upsurge in the insured, in turn, has brought new patients to medical facilities and spurred hiring, said Cathy Rebman, vice president for business development and community outreach at San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland. Rebman said the area’s population growth has also increased the need for more staff.

“This past year we’ve made sure we have the right amount of staffing for the patients we care for,” said Rebman, whose hospital added a new tower in 2017.

Unemployment in the Inland Empire was estimated at 4.6 percent in January, up from a revised 3.9 percent in December and unchanged from January 2018. A January increase in the jobless rate is expected when holidays come to an end; the retail sector shed about 8,500 positions after Jan. 1.

Growth also was reported in the government (up 1.9 percent), and construction (up 1.1 percent) sectors in January. And, despite the closing of numerous big-name retailers in 2018, that sector still saw 1,500 new jobs, a 0.8 percent increase.

The only sectors declining were miscellaneous services, such as maintenance work and laundry (down 3.1 percent), and financial activities (1.4 percent).

The growth in professional and business services has been noticed at Riverside Personnel Services, which specializes in filling office positions, said Kathy Hartman, the president.

“Not only are we getting order activity but we’re also seeing salary increases,” Hartman said. “People are willing to pay for the skills they’re getting.”

Average hourly pay in February rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier — the sharpest year-over-year increase in a decade, according to the federal jobs report also released on Friday.