SLO County's unemployment rate holds at 7.3 percent

San Luis Obispo County’s jobless rate flatlined at 7.3 percent for the last three months of 2012, state data show.

Continuing the 25-month trend of declining year-over-year unemployment, December’s rate was well below the December 2011 rate of 8.6 percent.

Because of seasonal work fluctuations — which can be significant — unemployment data are compared with the same month year over year.

The county’s rate for December was also below the unemployment rates of 9.7 for California and 7.6 for the nation.

During the recession, unemployment for a December in the county peaked in 2009 at 9.8 percent.

By comparison, the unemployment rate for the county was 3.7 percent in December 2006.

December 2012 — the most recent month calculated — the county labor force grew 2.7 percent to 139,300, and the number of unemployed fell 12.8 percent year over year to 10,200, according to data that are not seasonally adjusted.

Also called the labor participation rate, the labor force includes everyone working, looking for work or receiving unemployment benefits in San Luis Obispo County.

Excluding the self-employed, San Luis Obispo County’s companies or agencies had 4,400 more jobs in December than during the year-earlier month, up 4.6 percent.

Gains in government jobs led job growth in the county in December, with 2,800 jobs added in that category alone.

Next was the educational and health services category, which added 600 jobs. Manufacturing lost 300 jobs in December.

The state categorizes employment by place of work.