Unemployment rate in SLO County falls to 7.4 percent

San Luis Obispo County posted a much improved jobless rate in September, compared to the same month the year before, as more people entered the work force, state data show.

The unemployment rate was 7.4 percent last month, below September 2011's unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, and down from a revised 8.2 percent in August 2012, according to state data that are not seasonally adjusted.

In September, the unadjusted unemployment rate for California was 9.7 percent, and 7.6 percent for the nation.

The size of the local labor force grew 1.1 percent year over year this September to 141,400. Also called the labor participation rate, this figure includes everyone working, looking for work or receiving unemployment benefits in San Luis Obispo County.

Of the labor force in September, approximately 10,500 were unemployed, a year-over-year drop of 17.3 percent. An additional 105,300 had industry or farm employment; and 25,600 were self-employed, unpaid family workers, or household domestic workers, the data show.

Not counting the self-employed, San Luis Obispo County's companies or agencies had 2,500 more jobs in September compared to the same month in 2011, a 2.4 percent increase year over year, according to state data. Employment is categorized by place of work.

According to state records dating to 1990, the county's highest unemployment rate for the month of September was 9.6 percent in 2010. The lowest rate for September was 3 percent in 1999. Because of regular, seasonal work fluctuations — which can be significant — unemployment data are compared with the same month year over year.

Leading employment in September with year-over-year gains was the leisure and hospitality category, which added 1,000 jobs. The education and health services category and the trade, transportation and utilities category were also strong, with 800 jobs added in each compared with September 2011.

Meanwhile, the government, manufacturing, and farm categories each lost 400 jobs compared with last September.