NORTH BAY -- Unemployment rates for Marin, Solano and Sonoma counties dropped slightly in December from the previous month, while those for Lake, Mendocino and Napa increased slightly, according to state figures released today.

Marin last month dropped to a 7.8 percent jobless rate after rising to 8.2 percent in November, according to estimates from the Employment Development Department. The county still had the lowest rate in the state.

Sonoma County retained the ninth-lowest unemployment rate at year end at 10.1 percent, a slight decrease from November. In addition to a seasonally expected November to December decrease in 600 construction jobs and 400 in manufacturing, including the wineries, there were 100 fewer jobs in professional services, 200 fewer in leisure and hospitality as the tourism season waned and 700 fewer in government. Retailer hiring contributed to a 300-job gain in that sector for the one-month period.

Napa County slipped from eighth place in November to 11th in December with a rate of 10.2 percent, virtually matching Sonoma County's rate. Retail net hiring of 100 jobs didn't offset seasonal net job reductions of 300 in construction and manufacturing and 200 net fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality.

Lake County's 18.5 percent jobless rate ranked 50th in the state, moving up from 52nd in November despite a two-10ths of a percentage point increase in that period. The largest monthly change came in leisure and hospitality, with a 6.7 percent decrease from the number of jobs in that industry in November and a 14.2 percent  decrease from a year before.

Solano County's rate was 11.9 percent, down from 12.2 percent in November and up from 8.6 percent the year before. The county saw a drop of 200 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector.

California’s unemployment rate is holding at 12.4 percent while the U.S. has stayed the same at 10.0 percent.

Unemployment rates for North Bay countiesCountyDecember 2008November 2009December 2009State rankLake13.8%18.3%18.5%50Marin5.5%8.2%7.8%1Mendocino8.8%11.4%11.5%18Napa7.3%9.9%10.2%11Solano8.6%12.2%11.9%20Sonoma7.3%10.3%10.1%9California8.7%12.4%12.4%--U.S.7.4%10.0%10.0%--

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