Biz Buzz: Jobless rate dips slightly in April

San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment rate was 10 percent in April, falling slightly from the month before but still at one of the highest levels for the county since the state began keeping track.

Last month’s figure is below a revised 10.7 percent recorded in March and above 8.2 percent in April 2009, according to the latest labor force data from the state’s Employment Development Department.

It’s well below the 12.3 percent unemployment rate for California in April but eclipses the 9.5 percent rate for the nation.

The county gained a total of 200 nonfarm jobs in April compared to the previous month. However, 4,000 jobs were lost in April compared to the same month a year ago.

Job losses in mining, logging and construction led the way last year, followed by professional and business services, and trade transportation and utilities.

The county ranked 8th, along with Napa, for the lowest unemployment rate among the 58 California counties.

Mono County had the lowest unemployment rate at 8.2 percent and Imperial County had the highest at 27.9 percent.

— Julie Lynem

New board member, dentist at Tolosa

Partnership for the Children of San Luis Obispo County, which operates the nonprofit children’s dental clinic La Clinica de Tolosa, recently added San Luis Obispo resident Dave Alles of ESPN Radio to its board of directors.

Pediatric dentist and orthodontist Irma Perez-Martinez also recently joined the staff at La Clinica de Tolosa. Perez-Martinez replaces Michael Corley, who is retiring from dentistry after 38 years and who provided dental care at the clinic for three years.

— Julia Hickey

Program designed to cut energy costs

Atascadero business owners who own their buildings are eligible to sign up for a program designed to save energy and money.

The Energy Watch Small Business Program — a joint project of the county, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Southern California Gas Co. — helps businesses cut energy expenses by installing efficient lighting and equipment controllers.

The Silver Package — available at no cost to the business — installs compact fluorescent bulbs and reflectors, including dimmable styles, LED exit signs and vending machine lighting controllers.

Packages that cost money include the use of occupancy sensors and air-conditioning tune-ups.

Those who sign up for Energy Watch will first be assessed to see if the Silver Package is the right fit, officials said.

The program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E under the auspices of the state Public Utilities Commission.

For more information, call Geoff English at the city of Atascadero at 470-3180.

— Tonya Strickland

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Caring Touch Massage Therapy recently hired Mary Anderton, a nationally certified massage therapist. She joins massage therapists Alma Martinez and Stephen Wagner at the Atascadero business.

— Julia Hickey