Five of the six North Bay counties had lower rates of joblessness in December than for California as a whole, and three counties were better off in unemployment than the nation, according to state figures released Friday.

Except for a slight contraction in official estimates for industry employment in Mendocino and Lake counties last year, Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties added 8,900 jobs last year, according to preliminary estimates from the Employment Development Department. Marin County job-growth data isn't yet available.

The unadjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 percent for California and 6.5 percent for the nation last month.Sonoma County

The unemployment rate in the Sonoma County was 5.7 percent in December, down from a revised 6.0 percent in November 2013, and well below the year-ago estimate of 7.8 percent.

The county had 4,700 net new jobs in 2013, up 2.6 percent from 2012, with several industries showing positive growth.  The government sector led the way over the year, adding 1,500 jobs between. Professional services followed in yearly gains, adding 900 jobs, while hospitality and leisure continued to drive growth with 800 jobs over the year. Trade, transportation and utilities and education and health services each added 500 jobs over the year. 

The trades added the most positions over the month, at 300. Sonoma County has the 6th lowest rate in California.Solano County

The unemployment rate in the Solano County was 7.3 percent in December, down from a revised 7.7 percent in November and below the 9.4 percent rate for the previous December.

Job growth for the county last year was 3,600, or 2.9 percent. Leading the way in yearly job growth was the trades and utilities, adding 1,100 jobs, followed closely by hospitality, which added 1,000. Education and health services added 800 jobs, followed by professional services at 400. Financial activities added 300.

Over the month, Solano County saw strong gains in trades and utilities, which added 500, while education and health added 300 jobs.  Solano County is ranked 19th in the state for its unemployment rate.Marin County

The unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in Marin County -- still the lowest in California -- down more than one percentage point from 5.6 percent the previous December and 4.6 percent in November.

Specific industry data is not yet available for Marin,  part of the three-county region that includes San Francisco and San Mateo counties.Napa County

The unemployment rate in the Napa County was 5.9 percent in December, down from a revised 6.0 percent in November and below the year-ago estimate of 7.7 percent.

Job growth was 1,600 positions, or 2.4 percent.  The strongest yearly gains occurred in hospitality, adding 700 jobs, followed by professional services at 600 and the trades and utilities at 300. 

Monthly gains occurred in professional services, adding 300 jobs, and education and health and the trades, which each added 100.  Napa County has the 8th lowest jobless rate in the state.Mendocino County

The unemployment rate in Mendocino County was 7.4 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month and below last year's rate of 9.4 percent.

Monthly declines in mining and logging and construction offset positive monthly gains in the trades and utilities and health services. Over the year, the county is down a net 120 jobs, with seven industry sectors gaining or remaining unchanged and five declining.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 80 jobs over the month, while financial activities and leisure and hospitality each adding 20. Mendocino ranks 20th in the state with its jobless rate.Lake County

Lake County's jobless rate was estimated to be 12.1 percent in December, down nearly three percentage points from 15.0 percent a year earlier and slightly improved from 12.2 percent in November.

Lake County ranks 47th out of 58 counties in the state for its unemployment rate.

The county had a net loss of 80 jobs, down 0.6 percent for the year.