SLO County jobless rate drops in August

A jump in state education and leisure and hospitality jobs helped lower the San Luis Obispo County unemployment rate in August.

The local jobless rate was 9.7 percent in August, according to the California Employment Development Department. The same month a year ago it was 10.3 percent.

There were 500 more people working in San Luis Obispo County last month compared to August 2010 — a half of a percent gain year-over-year — according to state data.

California’s unemployment rate also fell, to 11.9 percent non-seasonally adjusted, from 12.5 percent a year ago. The national jobless rate fell to 9.1 percent from 9.5 percent in August 2010.

Meanwhile, the San Luis Obispo County labor force grew by nearly 1,500 from the same month a year ago, suggesting that more people locally are reporting that they are looking for work.

Still, the local unemployment rate remains more than twice prerecession levels.

In August 2007, when the economy was starting to slow down, San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment stood at 4.5 percent.

And after breaking the 5 percent mark and climbing steadily since mid-2008, local unemployment has hovered in a range between 9 and 10.7 percent for more than two years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last month, the “state government education” category posted the most gains, adding 900 jobs from a year ago — a 30 percent climb, according to state data.

The “leisure and hospitality” category gained 600 jobs from August 2010. Of those, 400 were in the “arts, entertainment and recreation,” which had a 25 percent gain from a year ago.

The “educational and health services” and construction categories also posted large gains, with 500 jobs added in each from a year ago — increases of 4.5 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively.

Those gains were offset some by the “local government” category. That shed 2,500 jobs in August from the same month a year before — a 23.8 percent drop — according to state data.

Most other categories posted single-digit gains, with a handful showing small losses.