North Bay unemployment rate continues decline in November

[caption id="attachment_46007" align="alignright" width="400" caption="North Bay job growth, year over year, January 2001-November 2011 (North Bay Business Journal graphic, click to enlarge)"][/caption]

NORTH BAY -- Unemployment rates across the North Bay mostly dropped in November, with Sonoma County reaching a three-year low, but the number of those searching for work remained high levels as job growth continues to be a mixed picture.

According to the Employment Development Department, seasonal retail hiring helped offset job losses throughout the area over the month.Sonoma County

Sonoma County’s jobless rate was 8.6 percent in November, down from a revised 9.3 percent in October and below last year’s rate of 10.3 percent. There were 2,200 fewer jobs than a year before, with industry losses in government of 700 jobs, trade including retail, at 500 jobs, manufacturing, at 300 jobs, finance, at 400 jobs and education and health services down 300 jobs. 

Two hundred construction jobs were added over the year  -- the 12th consecutive month with annual increases, according to a state job analyst  -- though the industry lost 300 between October and November.

A total of 600 trade jobs were added in the county from October to November, but other the month there were 400 losses in leisure and hospitality, and 300 in professional and business services. Manufacturing eliminated 900 jobs over the month.

The county's workforce shrank over the month, from 255,600 in October to 253,200 in November, which could indicate that some people have stopped looking for work and thus skew the unemployment rate downward, according to Linda Wong, North Bay labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department.

The county unemployment rate dropped slightly more than usual for the October-to-November period in the last 21 years, slipping by four-10ths of a percentage point last month, compared with the typical two-10ths of a point dip, according to Linda Wong, North Bay labor market consultant for the Employment Development Department. 

While that's incremental, it indicates that the picture isn't all bad, she said.

"If you compare this year's change to the prior 21-year average, it seems to be better than usual," she said.

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