SLO County's unemployment rate falls to 6.8 percent in March

San Luis Obispo County’s jobless rate continued its decline in March as it fell to 6.8 percent, state data show.

In March, there were 135,000 people counted as employed out of a total civilian labor force of 144,800, the California Employment Development Department reported.

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

The new figure was well below the March 2012 rate of 8.7 percent, according to data that are not seasonally adjusted.

The county’s rate for March of this year was also below the unadjusted unemployment rates of 9.4 percent for California and 7.6 percent for the nation.

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

The county’s unemployment rate in March ranked sixth among California’s 58 counties. Marin County had the lowest rate at 5.2 percent, and Colusa County had the highest rate at 23.9 percent.

Excluding the self-employed, county companies and agencies had 4,900 more jobs this March than in March 2012, up 4.7 percent.

Gains in professional and business services led job growth in the county for the third straight month, with 2,000 jobs added in March in that category alone — a year-over-year increase of 19.2 percent.

Next was the real estate, rental and leasing category, which added 300 jobs in March to grow 18.8 percent year over year.

Job losses of 6 percent were seen in the state government category, compared with March 2012.