North Bay unemployment rates dip in February

Sonoma County led the North Bay in year-over-year job growth in February, while unemployment rates across the North Bay were largely unchanged or a few tenths of a percentage point lower after a seasonal uptick in January, according to state figures released Friday.

North Bay employment may have recovered to prerecession levels, based on a Business Journal analysis of the estimates from the state Employment Development Department. Based on the trajectory of 3 percent annual job growth in Marin County in 2012, the last figures available for the county, North Bay employment may have reached more than 540,000 industry jobs between June and February. If that's accurate, it would be the highest level of industry jobs since October 2008.

With or without projections for Marin, North Bay job growth over 12 months through last month was 3.7 percent.Sonoma County

Sonoma County’s jobless rate in February was 6.2 percent, according to preliminary state estimates. That's below the 7.6 percent rate a year before and slightly down from the revised rate of 6.3 percent in January.

Statewide, the unemployment rate in February was an unadjusted 8.5 percent, while the national rate was 7 percent.

Total employment in Sonoma County grew 3.8 percent, or by 7,000 net new jobs, over 12 months to 190,100 in February from 183,100 a year before, according to the state. The year-over-year rate of growth peaked at 5.6 percent last March and has been trending downward slightly since.

Over the year, Sonoma County posted strong gains in government, which added 4,200 jobs. Much of that figure is likely related to the opening of Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, which has said it will employee up to 2,000 full-time employees.  The casino falls under the purview of government because it’s owned by a tribe, The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

The government sector includes local government, special districts and Indian tribes, according to Linda Wong, North Bay Labor Market Consultant for the EDD.

Other yearly gains occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 1,400 jobs. Manufacturing, which includes wine, added 700, while leisure and hospitality added 400 jobs.

Sonoma County added 1,300 jobs over the month, with 400 in the government sector, 300 in education and health services and 200 in manufacturing. Construction, financial activities and other services accounted to 100 jobs apiece.Marin County

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