Sonoma County unemployment rate rises to 8.3 percent
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Sonoma County's unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in January, reflecting a seasonal slowdown that didn't negate job gains made over the last year.
The unemployement rate was a decline from 9.5 percent in January 2012.
The county lost 3,000 non-farm jobs from December, the state reported Friday. Those reductions included positions in stores and restaurants that disappeared after the holiday season ended.
The number of workers still was 5,600 higher in January than a year earlier. The total number of jobs, 175,600, was the most recorded in January since 2009. Total employment in the county has increased for eight straight months on a year-over-year basis, according to revised figures released Friday.
“This just continues the slow recovery we're seeing,” said Ben Stone, director of the county's Economic Development Board. The increasing number of jobs from a year earlier shows “we are continuing to make strides.”
The county's unemployment rate increased from 7.8 percent in December.
For California, the January unemployment rate climbed to 10.4 percent, and for the nation, 8.5 percent. Both reported seasonal increases from December.
A rise in unemployment is typical for January, but the loss of jobs in the county this year appears less than usual, said Linda Wong, a labor consultant for the state Employment Development Department.
Over the last year, the increase in employment has been “a good sign, but we'll have to wait to see” whether the trend continues through 2013, she said.
Of the state's 58 counties, Sonoma had the eighth-lowest unemployment rate. Marin ranked first at 5.8 percent. Napa ranked 7th at 8 percent.
Mendocino ranked 18th at 9.9 percent and Lake ranked 43rd at 15.5 percent.
The release of the county unemployment figures was delayed because of revisions in data provided to the state by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February's employment data is slated to be released Friday March 29.
Of the 3,000 job reductions in January, about 600 came from the sector that includes retail trade and transportation. The decline reflects the end of seasonal work in stores and companies that deliver packages to homes and businesses.
The leisure and hospitality segment declined by 500 jobs, mostly in restaurants and bars, Wong said.
The construction sector also posted a reduction of 400 jobs.
State and local governments, including public schools, recorded a reduction of 1,000 jobs.
“That one's hard to understand,” said Steven Czegus, who heads Sonoma County's Job Link program. He expected that government programs had received some financial breathing room after state voters last fall approved tax increases in Proposition 30.
Czegus nonetheless expressed optimism on efforts to boost employment in the county.
In the past year, Job Link has greatly increased the number of its hiring events, including a job fair held this week and attended by 385 jobs seekers. Among the dozen companies on hand Wednesday was the Graton Resort and Casino, which said it was initially seeking 600 workers for its opening later this year.
In January, 9,514 county residents received unemployment benefits, compared to 13,386 a year earlier. For the same period, California reported a decline in those receiving benefits to 846,000 from nearly 1.1 million.
The county reached a peak of 20,000 residents receiving unemployment benefits in February 2010. That same month the state recorded 1.5 million unemployed workers on benefits.
The reduction in those numbers is attributed partly to people finding jobs but also to those whose benefits expired or who stopped looking for work.
(Staff Writer Robert Digitale can be reached at 521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.