NORTH BAY -- Average salaries in Santa Rosa and much of the surrounding region are 110 percent of the national average, indicating a stronger-than-average jobs market and demand, according to a survey by Robert Half International.
While much of the North Bay fared well, it was slightly behind other, more populated Bay Area regions like San Francisco and San Jose, which were 135.5 percent and 133 percent, respectively, above the national average, driven largely by an increasingly powerful tech sector.
But Santa Rosa still stacks up pretty well, according to Kristina Marinovich, district president for Robert Half, with strong demand across accounting and finance, technology, legal, creative and marketing and administrative and office support.
Across national markets, projected salaries overall will increase by 3.7 percent, according to the survey. Leading the way was tech, with a projected 5.6 percent increase; followed by accounting and finance, at 3.4 percent; creative and marketing and administrative support at 3.3 percent, and the legal field at 2.7 percent.
For Santa Rosa and much of Sonoma County, an overall 4.1 percent salary increase is expected. In tech, a 6.2 percent increase is expected, followed by accounting and finance, at 3.7 percent; creative and marketing and office support each at 3.6 percent, and legal at 3 percent.
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Looking at data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ms. Marinovich said the Santa Rosa region was about 98 to 99 percent of the national average, according to those metrics. "We felt that wasn't high enough," she said, so the survey took into account other factors such as unemployment rates among college graduates, as well as specific industries unique to the North Bay.
Among those North Bay specific industries are health care, food and beverage, construction and property management, Ms. Marinovch said.
"There are jobs in those sectors," she said.
Both wine and manufacturing are strong sectors, too, but those were flat over the year, Ms. Marinovich said.
Compared to the national unemployment rate of about 7 percent, college graduates between the ages of 20-25 have only an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, according to Ms. Marinovich, who added that the North Bay is no exception. In August, Sonoma County's unemployment rate was 6.6 percent, in Napa it was 5.8 percent and in Marin it was 5.6 percent.
Like elsewhere in the Bay Area, the development of mobile applications in technology has spurred significant job growth, and it's expected to accelerate within the next year, according to the survey.
In accounting and finance, certified public accountants and certified management accountants are most in demand.
"Any role where an individual has a CPA will pretty much get offers all the time," Ms. Marinovich said.
In health care, "pretty much every position is in high demand," Ms. Marinovich said, with medical coders and billers seeing the most demand. That's largely the result of significant coding changes stemming from the Affordable Care Act that, starting October 2014, require health plans and providers to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding.
And several large-scale construction projects across the North Bay have helped that sector rebound after difficult years throughout the recession, among them the $820 million casino in Rohnert Park and Sutter Health's new $284 million hospital.
All of this points to a much stronger economy -- and thus more choices -- for employees, versus employers who for the past several years have had more leverage.