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Harvest season boosts hiring in county

POSTED September 21, 2012 11:25 p.m.

A seasonal upswing in manufacturing and agricultural hiring sent Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly four years.

Stanislaus County’s unadjusted seasonal unemployment rate for August came in at 14.5 percent, according to the latest report from the California Economic Development Department.

The county’s unemployment rate has not been below 15 percent since December 2008, when it was 13.3 percent.

The decline is largely attributable to increased hiring in the farm and manufacturing sectors.

“It is a normal pattern to see the unemployment rate drop in August as part of a seasonal trend in farming and manufacturing jobs,” said EDD Labor Market Analyst Natividad Martinez. “For the last six years we’ve consistently seen lower numbers between July and August.”

The 14.5 percent unemployment rate was a decline from the seasonally adjusted rate of 15.7 percent in July and well below the year-ago estimate of 16.1 percent.

The manufacturing sector saw an increase of 2,600 jobs for the month and recorded a year over increase of 800 positions, according to the EDD.

Farm jobs increased by 500 for the month, but are down by an estimated 100 jobs for the year.

The county’s labor force decreased slightly from 236,500 in July to 235,800 in August. The number of people reporting themselves as employed saw a modest increase from 199,300 in July to 201,500 in August. The number of people reported as unemployed fell from 37,200 in July to 34,300 in August, the EDD reported.

While manufacturing, farming and construction saw increases in hiring for August, other sectors recorded declines. Trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality saw slight drops, while government hiring continued to decline at a larger rate.

The government sector was down 400 jobs in August from the month before and down 700 for the year over, the EDD reported. Some of the declines in government hiring can be attributable to summer youth job programs and grant-funded programs coming to an end, Martinez said.

The EDD tracks local job postings and found that in August the occupations with the most advertised openings in Stanislaus County were: Registered Nurses – 390; Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer – 334; Retail Salespersons – 192; First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers – 187; Physical Therapists – 127; Customer Service Representatives – 124; First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Production & Operations – 111; Occupational Therapists – 104; Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing – 100; and Medical and Health Services Managers – 98.

The employers with the most job ads for August in Stanislaus County were: E. & J. Gallo Winery – 148; Sutter Health – 129; Staples – 59; Kaiser Permanente – 53; Supplemental Health Care – 47; Turlock Unified School District – 41; CVS Caremark — 39; Stanislaus County Office of Education — 38; Modesto City Schools – 34; and Stanislaus Economic Development and Work — 33.

The unemployment rate in Merced County fell to 15.9 percent in August, down from 17.3 in July. San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate dropped to 14.3 percent in August from a rate of 15.1 percent in July.

California’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.6 percent in August, down from 10.7 percent in July.

The U.S. unemployment rate decreased in August to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, the EDD reported.

The unemployment rate in Turlock came in at 11.1 percent in August, down from 12 percent in July. Denair’s rate fell from 8.7 percent to 8 percent in August. Hughson’s rate dropped to 18.9 percent in August from 20.4 percent in July. Keyes came in with a rate of 25.3 percent, down from 27.1 percent in July.

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