North Bay unemployment remains mostly lower than California average in January


Joblessness rates throughout the North Bay continued to beat or tie the statewide figure, with the exception of Lake County, according to state figures released Wednesday.

In Sonoma County, the unemployment rate climbed in January to 3.1 percent from a revised rate of 2.8 percent in December, according to the Employment Development Department. In January 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent.

By comparison, California’s January rate was 4.6 percent, and the country’s was 4.5 percent.

For all job categories, the county saw a decline of 4,200 jobs from December to January, nearly all of it in the nonfarm category.

Jorge Villalobos, North Bay labor consultant with the department, said job declines are typical in many industries from December to January. In this report, the 700 job loss in the manufacturing was higher than historical averages for the time period. Farm jobs, which usually buck the seasonal trend and pick up, actually declined by 200 jobs.

Sonoma County, which lost the most homes and businesses from the devastating North Bay fires in October, also experienced jobs declines in hospitality (down 500), professional services (600), trade transportation and utilities (700) and government (600) — all in the December to January comparison.

Over 12 months, the county actually was up 6,000 jobs overall, a gain of 2.9 percent. Annual nonfarm job growth was 2.4 percent, up 4,900 positions.

In the months since the fires, the unemployment rate has hovered around 3 percent, declining below that mark only in December. Sonoma County’s unemployment rate placed it fifth-lowest among counties in the state.

Solano County ranked 22th among the counties, with 4.4 percent unemployment in January, up from 4.1 percent in December. Last January, the rate was 5.8 percent, the data showed.

Jobs declined from December to January by 2,600 overall, led by a 900-position drop in the retail-dominated trade category.

In a year-over-year comparison, the county was up 2,900 jobs overall as of January of this year, a gain of 2.1 percent. Nonfarm job growth was 2.0 percent, or 2,700 positions.

Solano farm jobs remained basically unchanged in a December to January comparison, as well as year-over-year.

Unemployment in Marin County, which ranked second-lowest in the state, rose to 2.5 percent in January, up from 2.3 percent in December. A year ago in January, the rate was 3.4 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate in the state was San Mateo County.

Marin’s job picture showed nonfarm payrolls basically were unchanged from December but up 2.6 percent from January 2017.

Construction employment in Marin was up year over year by 15.2 percent, the department stated. State government jobs were also up in the same period (10.5 percent), as were manufacturing positions (15.2 percent). Down year over year were financial-activities jobs (5.1 percent).

The unemployment rate in Napa County was 3.9 percent in January, up from 3.6 percent in December. A year ago, the rate was 5 percent in January. Napa ranked 14th in the state.

Of all job categories, Napa lost 400 jobs in a December-to-January comparison, but compared with January 2017, Napa County was up 800 jobs, or 1.1 percent, to 74,100 jobs overall. Annual growth in nonfarm jobs was 1.0 percent.

Farm jobs picked up from December to January, but a year-to-year comparison showed it was basically unchanged, as was the hospitality category. That same comparison also showed educational jobs were down by 400.

Mendocino County’s unemployment rate placed 24th. The county’s January rate was 4.6 percent, up from 4.2 percent in December. In January 2017, the rate was 5.6 percent.

The number of jobs declined 1.5 percent in December, but rose 1.9 percent from January 2017, the state reported.

Lake County was in the 34th spot, with a rise to 6.0 percent unemployment in January from a revised 5.6 percent in December.

Nonfarm jobs were up 3.8 percent over 12 months and virtually unchanged from December.

Farm jobs in Lake rose 14.5 percent compared with December, but declined by 13.7 percent from January 2017.

Service jobs remained basically unchanged from December to January, but were up 3.2 percent, compared with the previous January.