North Bay Business Journal

Friday, May 20, 2011, 11:25 am

Unemployment rates drop across North Bay in April


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    NORTH BAY — Unemployment rates in April dropped all across the North Bay, led by a significant uptick in leisure and hospitality hiring, while Sonoma County continued to post yearly increases in jobs, according to figures released this morning by the state Employment Development Department.

    Statewide, the rate dropped slightly, from 12 percent to 11.9 percent.  The state added 8,900 new jobs in April, with the leisure and hospitality industry posting the largest increase over the month — a trend echoed in the North Bay. Although the monthly rates decreased, many remained at similar levels of a year ago, save for Marin and Sonoma counties, which continued slow but steady rebounds.

    Sonoma County’s rate was 9.8 percent in April, down from 10.5 percent in March and 10.5 percent this time last year. From March to April, 1,700 jobs were added, with hospitality and tourism adding 500 of those positions.  Over the year,  2,800 jobs were added in Sonoma County, with the biggest gain coming in education and health services, at 900, followed closely by professional and business services, at 800. Construction also posted 600 jobs over the year.

    Marin County continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in California, at 7.6 percent, which was down from 8 percent in March and 9 percent a year ago.  Industry specifics for Marin, part of a three-county West Bay region that includes  San Mateo and San Francisco, aren’t available. But within those three counties, leisure and hospitality posted a net gain 1,800 jobs.

    Napa County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.6 percent in April from 10.3 percent in March and just below the year-ago rate of 9.9 percent. Over the course of the year, Napa posted a loss of 300 jobs, but month-over gains in hospitality and tourism, education and health services and professional and business services helped reduce unemployment claims. From March to April, hospitality and tourism gained 500 jobs, education and health, 300 jobs, and professional and business services had 200 jobs.

    The story was similar in Solano County, which dropped to 11.6 percent in April from a revised 12.3  percent in March and below the year-ago estimate of 11.8 percent. Monthly gains in hospitality and tourism and education and health services — at 300 and 200 new jobs, respectively — brought down the rate. But over the year, 2,600 jobs were lost, with professional and business services shedding 800 jobs and trade, transportation and utilities losing 600. Government lost 400 positions over the year.

    Mendocino County dropped to 11.6 percent in April from 12.5 percent in March, but was just under last year’s rate of 11.8 percent. Monthly gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, with 110 jobs, mining and logging, with 50 jobs and professional and business services with 40 jobs.  However, farming shed 50 jobs and trade, transportation and utilities lost 30 jobs.

    Lake County saw the biggest decrease, dropping more than a full percentage point in April, to 18.2 percent, down from 19.5 percent in March and down from 18.4 percent a year ago. Leisure and hospitality posted a gain of 130 jobs, followed by government, which posted 40 new jobs and trade, transportation and utilities adding 30 positions.

    The national unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in April, down half a percentage point from March.

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