Biz Buzz: County unemployment rate improves

San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment rate fell to 9 percent in September, down from 9.5 percent in August, according to the latest report from the state’s Employment Development Department.

That’s lower than 12 percent for all of California and better than many other areas across the state, including neighboring Monterey County with a 10 percent unemployment rate.

Still, San Luis Obispo County’s 9 percent is significantly higher than the 6 percent recorded in the same month a year ago. In September, 125,900 people were employed in the county out of a total labor force of 138,400.

A total of 2,500 jobs in all industries were lost in the county since September 2008. The greatest job losses were in leisure and hospitality, mining, logging and construction, trade, and transportation and utilities.

However, the county’s month-to-month jobs picture improved, with 900 jobs gained from August to September.

Times are tough for employment throughout the county.

Oceano registered the highest jobless rate at 14.6 percent, followed by Paso Robles at 10.7 percent, Nipomo at 10.1 percent and San Luis Obispo at 9.9 percent.

Nuvia Lyons, job placement specialist at the Estrella Career Center in Paso Robles, said those searching for jobs are having difficulty because there are few choices available. And there’s stiff competition for jobs, she said.

“At this point, it’s kind of take what you can get,’’ she said. “We tell people to look for seasonal jobs that are opening up right now. They could lead to a more permanent position. The most important thing is don’t give up.”

— Julie Lynem

Paso eatery set for opening this month

A North County restaurant boasting homemade pastas and Italian seasonal menus with local and regional ingredients is set to open in mid-November.

Owner and master chef Santos MacDonal and his wife and co-owner, Carole MacDonal, are preparing for the opening of the Il Cortile Ristorante at 608 12th St. in downtown Paso Robles.

About 2,600 square feet in size, the restaurant is to have 25 employees and a rustic southern Italian theme. It is to serve seafood, meats, poultry and a signature mozzarella menu, the MacDonals said.

The MacDonal family traveled to Paso Robles for years, they said, honeymooned there and dreamed of opening a restaurant in town. Santos MacDonal has also worked with restaurants in Los Angeles.

The MacDonals plan to pair their cuisine with local winery selections, along with Italian, Spanish and South American varietals. A selection of domestic and Italian beers will also be served. The business will also do off-site catering and host special events.

— Tonya Strickland