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North Bay Business Journal

Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:53 pm

North Bay joblessness rises, job growth slows in June

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    The rates of joblessness in five North Bay counties were below the statewide level of 7.4 percent, and year-over-year job growth rates bested or matched California-wide growth of 2.4 percent, according to the Employment Development Department.

    California added 356,400 nonfarm jobs in the previous 12 months.

    The statewide joblessness rate eased from a revised 7.6 percent in May but was well below the 9.0 percent rate the previous June.

    The state reported that the proportion of North Bay residents seeking jobs edged upward and job growth rates slowed. A significant seasonal factor in the June figures is the release of education-related workers at the end of the school year, so accounting for that would show a slight decrease in jobless rates in all North Bay counties but Lake, according to Robert Eyler, a professor in the Sonoma State University Economics Department and director of director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis. A reverse of that trend is seen in September after the next school year begins.

    Sonoma County

    In the North Bay’s most populous county, the jobless rate was estimated to be 5.3 percent in June. That’s up from a revised rate of 5.0 percent in May but below the 7.0 percent level for Sonoma County of a year before.

    The number of industry jobs grew 3.5 percent year over year through last month, up 6,700 jobs to 195,900.

    Leading job growth were local government, up 2,300 positions over 12 months thanks to 1,900 more jobs from Indian tribes, a boost attributed mainly to the opening of Graton Resort & Casino in November; local education, 1,900, or 14.7 percent, over 12 months; administrative and support services, 1,200, or 14.6 percent; general merchandise stores, 400, or 12.1 percent; manufacturing, particularly of nondurable goods such as food and beverages, 600, or 3.0 percent; and construction, 200, or 2.0 percent.

    Annual job growth slowed in four North Bay counties in the past few months, based on analysis of state figures. Such figures for Marin County aren’t yet available for this year, but annual job growth for the county from mid-2012 through 2013 had been 3 percent–4 percent.

    Likewise, Sonoma County’s year-over-year growth has averaged 4 percent, since growth swung significantly positive in mid-2012. If Sonoma County’s rate of job growth were to continue, its number of industry jobs could be back to the October 2006 peak of 201,800 by next spring.

    By January 2010, which economists point to as the start of the U.S. recovery, Sonoma County’s total industry employment had fallen by 30,800, or 15.3 percent.

    “2014 has been a year of continued but slower labor-market growth, something we should expect as unemployment rates creep closer to 5 percent, or 4 percent and beyond in the case of Marin County,” Dr. Eyler said.

    Solano County

    Unemployment increased barely in Solano County last month to an estimated 6.7 percent from a revised rate of 6.6 percent in May. Joblessness was 2 percentage points below what it was in mid-2013.

    Job growth year over year was 1.3 percent in June, with a net gain of 1,700 industry jobs over 12 months. Total jobs were 129,700 last month. Solano’s annual job growth rate has been slowing since a recovery peak of 4.5 percent in March 2013.

    Industries leading job gains in the county were, with a net of 300 more each over 12 months, health care and social services, up 1.4 percent; lodging and catering, 2.8 percent; restaurants and drinking establishments, 2.8 percent; manufacturing, 3.0 percent; and retail, 1.7 percent. Having a net gain of 200 each were construction, up 2.4 percent, and transportation and warehousing, 2.2 percent.

    The only major job sector with losses was government, which shed a net 200 positions, down 0.8 percent.

    Marin County

    Marin County continued to have the state’s lowest unemployment rate — 4.0 percent. It rose barely from a revised rate of 3.9 percent in May but was down considerably from 5.4 percent in June 2013.

    While job-growth data for Marin this year isn’t yet available separately from the state’s amalgamation of data from San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, job growth was up 4.1 percent in December, adding 4,400 jobs from a year before. Total industry employment was 112,800 at year end.

    Job growth had been around 3 percent to 4 percent since mid-2012, the fastest pace for Marin job growth since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001.

    Yet Marin’s job market is still building back to peak employment of 114,700 in June 2000, when Marin software and high-technology companies were expanding rapidly. At that time, Fair Isaac & Co., now called FICO, and George Lucas’ companies still were operating in the county, and San Rafael-based design software maker Autodesk hadn’t shifted growth to San Francisco and elsewhere.

    Napa County

    The jobless rate for Napa County was 4.7 percent last month, the state’s fourth-best rate. Napa County’s unemployment edged up from a revised May rate of 4.5 percent but down 1.5 percentage points from the mid-2013 rate.

    After brisk year-over-year job growth rates of mostly about 4 percent to 6 percent since December 2012, the fastest such growth in a decade, Napa County’s pace of industry job creation slowed in May and June to 2.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, according to a look at state figures shows.

    No job sector had net losses over 12 months in Napa County. Manufacturing, which includes wine production, added 700 jobs over 12 months, up 6.0 percent. But for wine production alone, the net gain was 800 jobs, a jump of 9.0 percent. Production of wine and food products overall had 400 more jobs, up 4.0 percent.

    Professional and business services was another growth sector, with 500 more jobs, up 7.5 percent. Education and health services had 400 more, up 4.1 percent, but growth was flat over the year specifically for health care. While leisure and hospitality also had no net gains over the year, employment in lodging and food services rose by 200 jobs, or 1.9 percent. Government had 300 more jobs, up 3.0 percent.

    New Napa employment peak

    While Sonoma, Solano and Marin counties still are recovering jobs lost to economic recession, Napa County reached that milestone in May 2013, according to state figures. After consumers cut purchases of fine wine and trips to wine country, the county’s industry job base lost 11,100 positions, or 15.2 percent, from peak employment of 73,000 in October 2007 and September–October 2008.

    Last October, Napa County reached a new peak — 76,300 industry jobs, or 4.5 percent more than in 2007–2008. Last month, the county had 75,400 industry jobs, or 3.3 percent more than the prerecession peak.

    Mendocino County

    The official joblessness rate in Mendocino County edged up to 6.0 percent in June from a revised 5.9 percent in May. Yet the county’s rank among California counties improved two spots, rising to 11th place from 13th. The jobless rate last month was 1.4 percentage points below that of a year before.

    Annual job job growth has been slowing since a peak of around 5.5 percent in March–May 2013, based on analysis of state figures. There was little to no growth from April through June of this year. The number of industry jobs, derived from government surveys, increased 0.2 percent in June, up 70 positions to 32,600 total.

    Leading official job growth over the past 12 months was construction, with 130 more jobs, up 13.4 percent; leisure and hospitality, 120, 2.7 percent; and government, 70, 1.0 percent. Offsetting those net gains mainly was professional and business services, with 150 fewer jobs, down 8.8 percent.

    Lake County

    In Lake County, the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, down nearly three points from a year ago.

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