SLO County's unemployment rate falls in February

San Luis Obispo County’s jobless rate once again dropped in February, falling to 5 percent.

The February rate was down from 6.1 percent year-over-year and also fell from January’s 5.4 percent mark.

The California Employment Development Department releases monthly data on employment and industry rates.

The county’s rate last month also was below the unadjusted February unemployment rates of 6.8 percent for California and 5.8 percent for the nation.

February’s rate tied with Alameda and Napa counties for seventh best among the state's 58 counties. Elsewhere in the state, San Mateo County reported the lowest February jobless rate at 3.5 percent. Colusa County reported the highest at 22.7 percent.

Last month, 131,700 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County out of a total civilian labor force of 140,200. 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 2,800 more jobs in February than in the same month last year — a 2.56 percent increase.

Gains in the educational and health services industry led job growth in the county, with 900 jobs added in February — a 4.3 percent increase year over year. Gains in the leisure and hospitality services industry also boosted employment in the county in January, with 500 jobs added that month — a 6.3 percent increase over February 2014.

But the government industry lost a net total of 500 jobs in February, down 2.1 percent from the year-earlier period. Most of the losses occurred in the local government subcategory, which shed 800 jobs over the year-earlier period.

Of the three largest cities in the county, Atascadero reported the lowest jobless rate last month at 4.1 percent, with 600 people out of its 15,100 eligible workforce counted as unemployed, according to subcounty data from the state Employment Development Department.

The city of San Luis Obispo’s jobless rate was 5.3 percent in February, with 1,400 people out of its 25,700 eligible workforce counted as unemployed.

Paso Robles reported a rate of 5.6 percent, with 900 of its 16,100 eligible workers unemployed.

Because of a smaller workforce at the city level, subcounty rates are subject to large month-to-month fluctuations.