SLO County's unemployment rate falls in March

San Luis Obispo County's jobless rate fell to 4.6 percent in March. The rate was down from 6.1 percent year over year and fell from February’s revised 5.0 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 March unemployment rates of 6.5 percent for California and 5.6 percent for the nation.

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

March’s rate tied with that of Sonoma and Napa counties for sixth best among the state's 58 counties. San Mateo County reported the lowest March jobless rate in the state, at 3.4 percent. Colusa County reported the highest, at 20.6 percent.

Last month, 134,900 people were counted as employed in San Luis Obispo County out of a total civilian labor force of 141,400. 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 2,900 more jobs in February than in the same month last year — a 2.5 percent increase.

Gains in the leisure and hospitality industries led job growth in the county, with 900 total jobs added in March — a 5.6 percent increase year-over-year. Gains in the mining, logging and construction industry also boosted employment in the county in March, with 500 jobs added — up 7.8 percent from the same month last year.

But the government industry lost a net total of 700 jobs in March, down 3 percent from the year-earlier period. Most of the losses occurred in the local government subcategory, which shed 900 jobs over the year-earlier period.

Of the three largest cities in the county, Atascadero reported the lowest jobless rate last month at 3.8 percent, with 600 out of its 15,200 residents eligible for the workforce counted as unemployed, according to subcounty data from the state Employment Development Department.

The city of San Luis Obispo's jobless rate was 4.9 percent in February, with 1,300 out of its 25,800 residents eligible for the workforce counted as unemployed.

Paso Robles reported a rate of 5.2 percent, with 800 of its 16,100 eligible workers unemployed.

Arroyo Grande reported a rate of 4 percent, with 400 out of its 9500 eligible workers unemployed.

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