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North Bay Business Journal

Friday, December 16, 2011, 9:54 am

North Bay unemployment rate continues decline in November

Napa and Sonoma counties at 8.6%; Marin lowest at 7.3%

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    North Bay job growth, year over year, January 2001-November 2011

    North Bay job growth, year over year, January 2001-November 2011 (North Bay Business Journal graphic, click to enlarge)

    NORTH BAY — Unemployment rates across the North Bay mostly dropped in November, with Sonoma County reaching a three-year low, but the number of those searching for work remained high levels as job growth continues to be a mixed picture.

    According to the Employment Development Department, seasonal retail hiring helped offset job losses throughout the area over the month.

    Sonoma County

    Sonoma County’s jobless rate was 8.6 percent in November, down from a revised 9.3 percent in October and below last year’s rate of 10.3 percent. There were 2,200 fewer jobs than a year before, with industry losses in government of 700 jobs, trade including retail, at 500 jobs, manufacturing, at 300 jobs, finance, at 400 jobs and education and health services down 300 jobs. 

    Two hundred construction jobs were added over the year  – the 12th consecutive month with annual increases, according to a state job analyst  – though the industry lost 300 between October and November.

    A total of 600 trade jobs were added in the county from October to November, but other the month there were 400 losses in leisure and hospitality, and 300 in professional and business services. Manufacturing eliminated 900 jobs over the month.

    The county’s workforce shrank over the month, from 255,600 in October to 253,200 in November, which could indicate that some people have stopped looking for work and thus skew the unemployment rate downward, according to Linda Wong, North Bay labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department.

    The county unemployment rate dropped slightly more than usual for the October-to-November period in the last 21 years, slipping by four-10ths of a percentage point last month, compared with the typical two-10ths of a point dip, according to Linda Wong, North Bay labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department. 

    While that’s incremental, it indicates that the picture isn’t all bad, she said.

    “If you compare this year’s change to the prior 21-year average, it seems to be better than usual,” she said.

    Sonoma County, with the eighth lowest rate in California, has fared better than many other counties.

    “It’s kind of been up and down, but there is a trend toward the positive,” she said.

    Sonoma County’s jobless rate dropped below 9 percent for the first time in three years, and the decrease in November marks the fourth consecutive month that the rate decreased.

    Marin County

    North Bay job growth, three-month moving average, year over year, January 2001-November 2011

    North Bay job growth, three-month moving average, year over year, January 2001-November 2011 (North Bay Business Journal graphic, click to enlarge)

    Marin County continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in California, at 6.9 percent in November. It was down from 7.3 percent in October and below last year’s rate of 8.3 percent.

    Marin, part of the three-county West Bay region along with San Francisco and San Mateo, does not have individual figures available. But across the West Bay region, 4,400 jobs were added in the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

    Napa County

    Napa County’s rate edged upward, from 8.2 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November. The year-ago rate was 10.3 percent.

    The county had 1,400 more jobs than a year before. Industry gains in trade, education and health, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, information and other services offset 600 fewer jobs total in manufacturing, construction, government and agriculture.

    A total of 200 jobs were added in the trade sector, but leisure and hospitality shed the same amount of jobs, while professional and business services, financial activities and education and health services each shed 100 jobs a piece.

    Bub over the year, Napa County grew its workforce by 2 percent, from 72,600 in November 2010 to 23,800 in November 2011, resulting in annual job growth of 2.4 percent

    Solano County

    North Bay unemployment rates, January 2000-November 2011

    North Bay unemployment rates, January 2000-November 2011 (North Bay Business Journal graphic, click to enlarge)

    Solano County was 10.6 percent in November, down from a revised 10.9 percent in October and below the year-ago estimate of 12.1 percent.

    The county had 400 more jobs than in November of last year. Gains in trade, leisure and hospitality, education and health offset 400 total fewer jobs in other services, construction and financial services.

    The trade sector posted 800 jobs over the month, while financial activities, education and health services, information, and government each added 100 jobs a piece.

    Mendocino County

    Mendocino County was essentially flat, at 10.1 percent in November compared to 10 percent in October, and down from last year’s rate of 11.5 percent.

    The county had 220 fewer jobs than a year before, a decrease of 0.8 percent.

    The government sector grew by 220 jobs over the month, while trade, transportation and utilities added 30 positions. However, the farming sector lost 650 jobs over the month.

    Lake County

    In Lake County, the November rate was 16.7 percent, up from 16.2 percent in October, but down from last year’s rate of 19.2 percent.

    The county had 230 fewer jobs than a year before, a decrease of 1.9 percent.

    State and nation

    The state unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a point to 11.3 percent in November, while the state added 6,600 jobs. The November unemployment rate is 1.2 percentage points below the November 2010 rate of 12.5 percent. Nationally, the rate was 8.6 percent. 

    Unemployment rates for North Bay counties

    Area

    November
    2010

    October
    2011

    November
    2011

    State rank
    (out of 58)

    Lake Co.

    19.2%

    16.2%

    16.7%

    54

    Marin Co.

    8.3%

    7.3%

    6.9%

    1

    Mendocino Co.

    11.5%

    10.0%

    10.1%

    17

    Napa Co.

    10.3%

    8.2%

    8.6%

    6

    Solano Co.

    12.1%

    10.9%

    10.6%

    19

    Sonoma Co.

    10.3%

    9.3%

    8.9%

    8

    California

    12.5%

     

    11.3%

    U.S.

     

     

    8.6%

    Source: California Employment Development Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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