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County unemployment reaches record numbers

POSTED March 26, 2010 9:13 p.m.
Stanislaus County reached an unhappy milestone Friday when the Economic Development Department released the latest unemployment numbers and the county recorded it’s highest unemployment level in 16 years.
The county had an unemployment rate of 19.1 percent for February, matching a high mark set in February 1994. The only time the county has had a higher number in the 20 years the EDD has been tracking the rates, was in February 1993 when it hit 19.7 percent.
The 19.1 percent for February is up from the revised 18.8 percent in January, and above the year-ago estimate of 16.2 percent.
“It’s common for the area to see an increase in the unemployment as the winter season comes to an end,” said Liz Baker, a labor market analyst with EDD. “The rates increased by a small number for February, but that’s added to a high unemployment level the Valley is already experiencing.”
The unemployment news was just as bad for neighboring counties. Merced County had an unemployment level of 22.1 percent and San Joaquin County saw an 18.4 percent unemployment.
The 19.1 percent unemployment rate represents 45,400 unemployed workers in the county. In a civilian labor pool of 238,200 people, about one out of every five workers are unemployed, Baker said.
The unemployment numbers could take an even grimmer turn as hundreds of Stanislaus County workers are losing their jobs with the closure of the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc., plant in Fremont on Wednesday. Coupled with that are city and county governments and school districts dealing with budget shortfalls that could result in more lay-offs.
In Turlock, the unemployment rate grew just slightly to 14.7 percent in February, up from 14.5 percent in January. Areas in west and south Modesto saw the highest unemployment rate within Stanislaus County, with Shackelford the worst at 50.1 percent. The area with the lowest unemployment rate was East Oakdale at 8.3 percent.
California’s unemployment rate was at 12.5 percent for February, the same as January. Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent.
Every job sector outside of farming in Stanislaus County has seen job loses from February 2009 to February 2010, with trade, transportation, utilities, and government recording the highest.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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