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North Bay jobless rates mostly unchanged in December

Sonoma County in December had its first annual net increase in jobs in three years, according to state employment figures released today (see the chart below).

Job growth in Sonoma CountySonoma County job growth 2001-2010 (PDF)

A 1,200-job net gain from December 2009 was just seven-10ths of a percentage point increase to 176,000 positions but it was the first such increase since December 2007, when the unemployment rate for the county was 4.5 percent, according to estimates from the Employment Development Department.

In the past three years, the county had a net loss of 20,800 jobs.

Sonoma County's unemployment rate decreased just three-10ths of a point to 10 percent in December, but jobless benefits claims decreased 2.7 percent in that timeframe.

For the other North Bay counties as well as the state and nation, December unemployment rates remained high but largely unchanged from both November and 12 months before.

Exceptions were a three-10ths of a percentage point decrease in Marin County from the revised November estimate and a six-10ths of a point increase in Napa County from November and Sonoma County's three-10ths of a point decrease over the year.

Lake County

Lake County's jobless rate of 19.1 percent was nine-10ths of a percentage point higher than the end of 2009 but just three-10ths of a percentage point higher than the rate in November.

The increase in the unemployment rate in 2010 for Lake County reflects a net loss of 260 jobs during the year to 12,270. A 4.7 percent increase in farming jobs and a 3.3 percent increase in health care positions -- 100 new jobs all together -- didn't offset 100 jobs lost in the hospitality industry, 90 in government (mostly on for local governments), 70 fewer in construction and 40 fewer in retail.

Marin County

The western gateway to the North Bay retained its long-held distinction of having the best unemployment situation in the state. Industry-specific information isn't available for the county.

Mendocino County

The unemployment rate in Mendocino County was virtually unchanged in 2010, despite a 1 percent net job loss, or 380 positions, in the county during that period. State figures showed a drop in the labor force of 220 people while the number claiming unemployment benefits increased only by 60.

Hardest hit was the service sector, with 560 fewer jobs over the year, a decrease of 2.3 percent. In that sector, retail lost 130, and local government 260 jobs.

Also hit hard in 2010 were construction, with 140 fewer, a drop of 16.1 percent, and durable goods manufacturing, with 90 fewer, off 9.6 percent.

The late winegrape harvest that stretched picking into late fall boosted farm employment to a 19.2 percent gain for the year, or 290 more positions.

Napa County

The county had a net loss of 1,700 jobs in 2010, a decrease of 2.7 percent to 61,300 in December. The only two industries with job gains last year were manufacturing and professional services, each with gains of 400, or about 12 percent. A 6.6 percent gain, or 500 jobs, in beverage-related production and 200 more in making durable goods compensated for 300 fewer in nondurable goods manufacturing.

Those gains didn't offset 1,000 fewer construction jobs, a decrease of 37 percent, 300 fewer in viticulture and other farming, 300 fewer in retail and 200 fewer each in health care, hospitality, state and local government, and other services.

Solano County

Over the year, the county had a net loss of 1,900 jobs, or 1.6 percent, to 117,100. Losses came from construction, down 600 or 8.6 percent for the year; trade, warehousing and utilities, 500 or 2 percent; 200 each in government, 0.8 percent, and other services, 5.6 percent; and 100 each in information, financial services and hospitality.

Growth came from 100 jobs in professional and business services, an increase of 1 percent, and 300 more in health care, growth of 2.1 percent.

Unemployment rates for North Bay countiesCountyDecember

2009November

2010December

2010State rank

(out of 58)Lake18.2%18.8%19.1%50Marin8.2%8.3%7.9%1Mendocino11.4%11.4%11.6%19Napa10.2%10.0%10.6%12Solano11.8%12.1%12.1%20Sonoma10.3%10.1%10.0%9California12.2%12.4%12.3%--U.S.9.7%9.3%9.4%--

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