SLO County's unemployment rate dips in March

kleslie@thetribunenews.comApril 22, 2014 

After two months holding steady at 6.2 percent, San Luis Obispo County's jobless rate fell slightly to 6.1 percent in March — down 10.3 percent from the 2013 estimate of 6.8 percent.

It was the lowest for that month since 2008, when unemployment was 5.1 percent, according to data provided by the California Employment Development Department. March unemployment for the county peaked during the recession at 10.4 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.

The March rate ties San Luis Obispo County with Santa Clara County as sixth best among California's 58 counties.

Elsewhere in California, Marin County reported the lowest March jobless rate in the state at 4.7 percent, and Colusa County had the highest at 24.5 percent. San Luis Obispo County's rate in March was also below the unadjusted March unemployment rates of 8.4 percent for California and 6.8 percent for the nation.

Last month, 133,500 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County out of a total civilian labor force of 142,200.

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 1,900 more jobs this March than the same month last year. That represented a 1.8 percent increase.

Gains in the service providing industry led job growth in the county, with 1,500 jobs added in March in that category — a year-over-year increase of 1.6 percent.

The state and local government category also saw gains, with 900 jobs added in March, representing a 4.3 percent increase year-over-year.

The trade, transportation and utilities industry lost 400 jobs in March, a 2 percent decrease from the year before.

At 11.6 percent, Oceano had the highest unemployment rate in the county in March, with an estimated 500 people out of its 4,300-person labor force being unemployed, according to sub-county data provided by the California Employment Development Department.

The city of San Luis Obispo unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in March, with 1,900 people out of its 28,600 eligible workforce being counted as unemployed, and Paso Robles had a rate of 7.3 percent, with 1,000 of its 13,400 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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