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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, October 22, 2012, 6:30 am

North Bay posts modest gains in employment

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    NORTH BAY — While the overall North Bay unemployment rate remains relatively high — like much of the state — a handful of sectors are seeing growth and helping reduce the amount of joblessness claims across the region.

    In August, Sonoma County had a jobless rate of 8.3 percent, compared to 8.6 percent the previous month and below the year-ago estimate of 9.9 percent, according to figures from the Employment Development Department. The county posted annual net job growth, adding 6,500 positions. Leading the way in job growth was manufacturing, which will likely continue to increase as the harvest season approaches and picks up jobs. In Sonoma County, the sector added 1,400 jobs over the year.

    Neighboring Napa County, on the other hand, saw annual job losses in nearly ever sector, save for government, which added 100 jobs over the year. Despite that seemingly lackluster performance, Napa County had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent — the fourth lowest in California.

    Marin County, which has the lowest jobless rate in the state at 6.3 percent, does not yet have industry data available because it is included in a West Bay Region with San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

    Since 2008, the North Bay has seen a slow but steady upward climb in jobs added across Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. Through 2012, total industry employment has increased by a little more than 1.6 percent, reaching it’s highest uptick in July, when total industry employment increased by 2.8 percent. It bottomed out in April, for a gain of only 0.6 percent.

    Solano County saw a significant bump in job growth related to trade, transportation and utilities, which accounted for 900 jobs over the year and helping the unemployment rate slip to 10 percent, down from 10.5 percent last year. Professional and business services also posted 500 jobs, while education and health services added 600 jobs and leisure and hospitality added 700 jobs. 

    Similarly, Sonoma County saw solid growth in professional and business services and health and education, each of which added 1,300 jobs over the year. Trade, transportation and utilities added 900 jobs over the year, while construction added 800..

    The only sector in Sonoma County to post a loss was government, which lost 300 jobs over the year.

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