[caption id="attachment_76068" align="alignright" width="300"] North Bay hospitality jobs, May 2003-May 2013 (click to enlarge)[/caption]

Unemployment rates across the North Bay dropped in May, spurred in part by the start of the tourism high season and related hiring, according to the latest figures from the state Employment Development Department.

In Sonoma County, leisure and hospitality added 700 jobs over the year, while between April and May the sector added 500 jobs.

In Napa County, tourism and hospitality added 600 jobs over the year, with 200 new jobs between April and May.

Likewise in Solano County, leisure and hospitality added 400 jobs over the year and it led the way over the month with 300 positions.

Over the month, leisure and hospitality and utilities led the way with each adding 300 jobs, followed by education and health services, which added 200.

Leisure and hospitality also clearly led the way in Mendocino County, adding 230 jobs over the year.

The hiring in tourism boosted other regions throughout the state, according to Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California.

“California’s travel and tourism industry is a leading economic engine for the state," Ms. Beteta said in a statement. "As the industry continues to grow it’s no surprise that the largest component of the travel and tourism industry – leisure and hospitality – has recently added 9,000 new jobs, more than any other industry." 

California's unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent in May.