SLO County's unemployment rate holds steady in February

kleslie@thetribunenews.comMarch 24, 2014 

San Luis Obispo County’s February jobless rate held steady at 6.2 percent for the second month in a row — down 13.8 percent from the 2013 estimate of 7.1 percent.

It was also the lowest for that month since 2008, when unemployment was 4.7 percent, according to data provided by the California Employment Development Department. February unemployment for the county peaked during the recession at 10.1 percent in 2010.

Because of seasonal work fluctuations — which can be significant — unemployment data are compared with the same month year over year. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

February’s rate ties San Luis Obispo County with Sonoma County as seventh best among California’s 58 counties.

Elsewhere in California, Marin County reported the lowest February jobless rate in the state at 4.8 percent, and Colusa County had the highest at 24.2 percent. San Luis Obispo County's rate in February was also below the unadjusted February unemployment rates of 8.5 percent for California and 7 percent for the nation.

Last month, 132,100 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County out of a total civilian labor force of 140,800.

The labor force, also called the labor participation rate, includes everyone working, looking for work or receiving unemployment benefits in the county.

Excluding the self-employed, county companies and agencies had 1,700 more jobs this February than in the year-earlier period. That represented a 1.6 percent increase.

Gains in the state and local government industry led job growth in the county, with 900 jobs added in February in that category — a year-over-year increase of 4.3 percent. The most jobs in that category were added in the state government education category, with 400 jobs added in February, representing a 9.5 percent increase year over year.

The private service industry lost 300 jobs in the retail trade and other miscellaneous services categories, but recouped its losses with gains in all other categories. It was the only industry to report year-over-year losses in February.

At 11.8 percent, Oceano had the highest unemployment rate in the county in February, with an estimated 500 people out of its 4,200-person labor force being unemployed, according to sub-county data provided by the state Employment Development Department.

San Luis Obispo city had a February unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, with approximately 1,900 of its 28,300 eligible workers being unemployed, and Paso Robles had a rate of 7.4 percent, with 1,000 of its 13,300 eligible workers being counted as unemployed. Because of a smaller work force on the city level, the sub-county rates are subject to large fluctuations from month to month.

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