SLO County unemployment rate drops to 5.6 percent in December

December marked exactly three years of San Luis Obispo County’s monthly jobless rate decreasing year over year, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.

The county’s jobless rate was 5.6 percent in December, down 22.1 percent from the December 2012 estimate of 7.2 percent.

It was also the lowest for that month since 2007, when unemployment was 4.6 percent. December unemployment for the county peaked during the recession at 9.8 percent in 2009. Because of seasonal work fluctuations — which can be significant — unemployment data are compared with the same month year-over-year. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

December’s rate puts San Luis Obispo County fifth best among California's 58 counties.

Elsewhere in California, Marin County reported the lowest December jobless rate in the state at 4.2 percent, and Imperial County had the highest at 22.5 percent.

San Luis Obispo County's rate in December was also below the unadjusted December unemployment rates of 7.9 percent for California and 6.5 percent for the nation.

Last month, 135,100 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County out of a total civilian labor force of 143,100.

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

Excluding the self-employed, county companies and agencies had 1,800 more jobs this December than in the year-earlier period. That represented a 1.7 percent increase.

Gains in the mining, logging and construction industry, led job growth in the county, with 400 jobs added in December in that category — a year-over-year increase of 7.1 percent.

The local government industry lost 900 jobs in December, a year-over-year decrease of 8.3 percent. Local government and the accommodation category — which fell by 5.6 percent — were the only industries to lose jobs year-over-year in the county.

At 10.8 percent, Oceano had the highest unemployment rate in the county in December, with an estimated 500 people out of its 4,300-person labor force being unemployed, according to sub-county data provided by the state EDD.

San Luis Obispo city had a December unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, with approximately 1,800 of its 28,800 eligible workers being unemployed, and Paso Robles had a rate of 6.7 percent, with 900 of its 13,500 eligible workers being counted as unemployed.