Sonoma Co. leads North Bay job gains; Lake Co. tops in growth rate
Sonoma County led the North Bay in year-over-year job growth in February, while unemployment rates across the North Bay were largely unchanged or a few tenths of a percentage point lower after a seasonal uptick in January, according to state figures released Friday.
North Bay employment may have recovered to prerecession levels, based on a Business Journal analysis of the estimates from the state Employment Development Department. Based on the trajectory of 3 percent annual job growth in Marin County in 2012, the last figures available for the county, North Bay employment may have reached more than 540,000 industry jobs between June and February. If that’s accurate, it would be the highest level of industry jobs since October 2008.
With or without projections for Marin, North Bay job growth over 12 months through last month was 3.7 percent.
Sonoma County’s jobless rate in February was 6.2 percent, according to preliminary state estimates. That’s below the 7.6 percent rate a year before and slightly down from the revised rate of 6.3 percent in January.
Statewide, the unemployment rate in February was an unadjusted 8.5 percent, while the national rate was 7 percent.
Total employment in Sonoma County grew 3.8 percent, or by 7,000 net new jobs, over 12 months to 190,100 in February from 183,100 a year before, according to the state. The year-over-year rate of growth peaked at 5.6 percent last March and has been trending downward slightly since.
Over the year, Sonoma County posted strong gains in government, which added 4,200 jobs. Much of that figure is likely related to the opening of Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, which has said it will employee up to 2,000 full-time employees. The casino falls under the purview of government because it’s owned by a tribe, The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
The government sector includes local government, special districts and Indian tribes, according to Linda Wong, North Bay Labor Market Consultant for the EDD.
Other yearly gains occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 1,400 jobs. Manufacturing, which includes wine, added 700, while leisure and hospitality added 400 jobs.
Sonoma County added 1,300 jobs over the month, with 400 in the government sector, 300 in education and health services and 200 in manufacturing. Construction, financial activities and other services accounted to 100 jobs apiece.
Marin County continued to post the lowest jobless rate in California, with a rate of 4.8 percent last month. That’s down from 5.4 percent a year before and up barely from 4.7 percent in January.
Industry specifics for Marin, part of a three-county region that includes San Francisco and San Mateo counties, are not yet available.
In Napa County, the unemployment rate slipped to 6.1 percent in February from a revised 6.6 percent rate in January. Last month’s rate was 110 basis points below the 7.2 percent rate for the previous February.
Over the year, Napa County added 3,300 jobs from a year before, up 4.9 percent. That rate of growth, just behind a resent surge in Lake County, was slower than the more than 5 percent year-over-year pace of the previous five months.
The biggest net job gains over 12 months were in education and health services, with 1,000 more; manufacturing, 800; and professional and business services, 600. Leisure and hospitality added 500 jobs, and construction, 300.
The 1,400 in net jobs added from January in Napa County included the government sector and education and health services, each of which added 300 jobs. Manufacturing added 200, and leisure and hospitality and professional business services, 100 apiece.
The county added 3,400 total jobs over the year, up 2.7 percent. Job growth has been easing since a peak of 4.5 percent year-over-year growth in March of last year.
Leading industries in annual job gains were trade, transportation and utilities, adding 1,700 jobs; professional business services, 600; leisure and hospitality, 500; education and health and manufacturing, 300 each.
Over the month, professional services added 600 jobs, while construction and government each added 300. Education and health services added 200.
Still, it’s the lowest February jobless rate for Mendocino since 2008, when it was 6.9 percent.
Over the year, Mendocino added 500 jobs, up 1.6 percent.
The largest gains were in private health and education services, with 280 more, and leisure and hospitality, 230. Manufacturing added 160 jobs, while construction added 150.
Annual job growth was 5.1 percent in February, raising industry employment to 15,130. Job growth has been around 5 percent for the past four months.
Over the year, education and health services added the most jobs, with 600, or an increase of 16 percent.
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