County jobless rate drops as health, education, hospitality sectors add positions

San Luis Obispo County's jobless rate decreased to 5.4 percent in September, marking the fifth time this year the rate has fallen below 6 percent.

The rate dipped to 5.2 percent in April and stayed below 6 percent until July, when it temporarily spiked to an adjusted rate of 6.1 percent, according to recent data from the state Employment Development Department. Unemployment for the county peaked during the Great Recession at 10.5 percent in January 2010.

The county’s rate last month also was below the unadjusted September unemployment rates of 6.9 percent for California and 5.7 percent for the nation.

San Luis Obispo County’s rate ranked it ninth best among California’s 58 counties. Elsewhere in the state, Marin County reported the lowest September jobless rate at 3.9 percent, and Imperial County reported the highest at 23.9 percent.

Last month, 132,500 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County, out of a total civilian labor force of 140,000. 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, companies and agencies in the county reported 1,500 more jobs this September than in the same month last year, a 1.4 percent increase.

Gains in the leisure and hospitality industry led job growth in the county, with 700 jobs added in September in that category — up 4.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

The educational and health services category also grew, with 600 jobs added in September — a 4.5 percent increase year-over-year.

But the trade, transportation and utilities industry lost 1,300 jobs in September, down 6.3 percent from the year-earlier period.

San Luis Obispo’s jobless rate was 5.9 percent in September, with 1,700 people out of its 28,100 eligible workforce counted as unemployed, according to sub-county data from the state Employment Development Department. Paso Robles had a rate of 6.2 percent, with 800 of its 13,200 eligible workers counted as unemployed.

Because of a smaller workforce on the city level, sub-county rates are subject to large fluctuations month to month.