Employment in San Luis Obispo County growing, though slowly

Employment in San Luis Obispo County has continued its slow growth into the fourth quarter of the year, even as the local unemployment rate ticked up slightly, according to state data.

The number of jobs grew for the third straight month, with about 100 nonfarm positions added for a seasonally adjusted 96,700 in October, according to the California Employment Development Department.

That’s about a 3 percent recovery — about 2,800 positions — from when the number of local jobs in July plunged to a seasonally adjusted 93,900.Employment in the past decade peaked locally in June 2007 at 104,600 nonfarm jobs — about 8.2 percent higher than October’s level — according to state data.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to a seasonally adjusted 9.7 percent from September’s 9.6 percent, according to data from Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles firm that tracks California’s regional economies.

That jump could be attributed to a decline of 1,100 in the number in San Luis Obispo County’s labor force, which the state defines as the number of people working, plus those unemployed who are seeking work.

Economists suggest those declines are sometimes a sign that the unemployed have given up seeking work, either because they are discouraged or for other reasons, or that some people may have moved from the area.

Overall, the number of San Luis Obispo County residents working also fell in October by a seasonally adjusted 1,100 to 122,700, according to Beacon data.

That figure includes the relatively volatile farm employment category and San Luis Obispo County residents who may have jobs outside the county.

Seasonal adjustment is a statistical method that enables month-to-month comparisons by accounting for historical patterns of job losses and gains that take place at specific times of the year, such as holiday hiring by retailers or the shedding of some public schools positions during the summer.Local jobs growth in most categories was flat in October, or posted modest gains.

The public sector was the only one to post notable declines, with a seasonally adjusted drop of 400 government jobs in October. Government is the largest jobs category in San Luis Obispo County, with nearly 19,500 working in that sector locally.

A loss of 600 jobs in local government was offset by a gain of 200 state government positions in San Luis Obispo County, according to Beacon data.

State and local government as a combined category remains the best performing employment sector for the past three months, posting the highest gains from July through October.

The “other services” category was the worst performing, posting the highest losses from July through October, according to Beacon data. That category includes a broad variety of jobs, such as repair and maintenance services, personal and laundry services, religious or professional organizations or unclassifiable jobs.