Sonoma County has largest annual job growth in four years, topping the state's largest metropolitan areasHiring activity in the North Bay

Napa County (PDF)

Solano County (PDF)

Sonoma County (PDF)

Sources: Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division; Help Wanted Online from The Conference Board; and WANTED Technologies

NORTH BAY -- Unemployment rates across the North Bay in February mostly improved from the month and year before, and Sonoma County had one of the best yearly job growth rates in the state, according to figures released today from the Economic Development Department.

Sonoma County

From February 2010 to February 2011, Sonoma County's workforce grew faster than any of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in California, with an overall 2.7 rate of growth, according to Ruth Kavanagh, labor market consultant for the department.

The county added 4,300 jobs over those 12 months -- the largest year-over-year increase in four years.

From January to February this year, a net of 1,100 jobs were added, causing the unemployment rate to slip to 10.2 percent last month compared to 10.5 percent in January.  The county's year-ago rate was 11.1 percent.

Professional and business services netted 1,700 jobs over the year, while construction was second, with 1,200 new jobs over the year, according to the data.

From January to February of this year, the construction sector added a net of 200 jobs -- the first time that sector has posted any gain in that time frame in over 20 years, Ms. Kavanagh said.

"Typically between January and February, there is no change in construction," she said. "But this year there was 200."

Napa County

The February rate in Napa County improved by nearly half a percentage point to 10.3 percent from a revised 10.7 percent in January and 10.5 percent in February 2010.

The county posted a net gain of 600 jobs over the month but still had a loss of 1,700 jobs over the year.

Marin County

Marin County continued to keep its first-place rank in the state. The rate fell to 7.8 percent in February from 9 percent a year before and 8.2 percent in January.

Solano and Mendocino counties

Solano and Mendocino counties both dipped to 12.1 percent last month from 12.3 percent in January. The rates in February 2010 were 12.5 percent for Solano and 12.6 percent for Mendocino.

Lake County

Lake County had the biggest month-to-month improvement among North Bay counties. The rate was 19.2 percent last month, compared with 19.8 percent in January. But the February rate remained at the same rate a year before.

Statewide, 96,500 new jobs were added in February  -- the largest one-month gain in over 20 years, according to Robert Half International, a staffing firm with offices in Santa Rosa.  That helped decrease the unemployment rate to 12.2 percent from 12.4 percent in January.

Unemployment rates for North Bay countiesAreaFebruary 2010January 2010February 2011State rankLake19.2%19.8%19.5%49Marin9.0%8.2%7.8%1Mendocino12.6%12.3%12.1%19 (tie)Napa10.5%10.7%10.3%10Solano12.5%12.3%12.1%19 (tie)Sonoma11.1%10.5%10.2%9California12.5%12.4%12.2%--U.S.9.7%8.9%9.5%--

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