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County making gains on unemployment
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The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County continued to make a slow, steady progress toward pre-recession rates, with the December unemployment rate hitting its lowest level in years.

The unadjusted seasonal unemployment rate for December in Stanislaus County came in at 15 percent, according to the Employment Development Department. The rate reflects a slight increase from November’s adjusted rate of 14.5 percent and below the year-ago estimate of 16.2 percent.

The last time Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate in December was below 15 percent was in 2008 when it was at 13.4 percent, said EDD Labor Market Analyst Natividad Martinez. In 2011 the December unemployment rate was 17.6 percent and in 2010 it was 17.5 percent.

“Any drop is good news,” Martinez said. “We’re definitely going in the right direction.”

Between November and December an estimated 1,000 jobs were added in Stanislaus County. However, the farming sector lost about 900 due to seasonal layoffs, giving the county an estimated growth of 100 positions. There were approximately 35,100 people unemployed in Stanislaus County in December.

Besides farming, the only other sector to post a job loss in December was construction, which dropped approximately 100 jobs, the EDD reported.

As expected, the retail industry saw substantial growth in December as stores hired more people for the holidays. The industry added about 500 positions for the month. Most of those positions are temporary and likely will contribute to an increase in the unemployment numbers for January.

“Historically, the month of January has the largest drop in numbers,” Martinez said. “It’s not unusual because it’s coming from typically seasonal jobs.”

Health care recorded a growth of about 300 new hires in Stanislaus County for the month, according to EDD data.

For the year-over, Stanislaus County had an overall job growth of an estimated 900 positions.

In Merced County the unemployment rate for December was 17.2 percent, up from 15.7 percent in November. San Joaquin County had an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent in December, up slightly from 14.1 percent in November.

The unemployment rate in California was at 9.8 percent in December and the nation’s was at 7.8 percent for the same time period.

EDD’s report on payroll employment in the nonfarm industries of California totaled 14,398,800 in December, a net loss of 17,500 jobs since the November survey. This followed a gain of 6,100 jobs in November.

Construction, information, and educational and health services added jobs over the month, gaining 16,800 jobs. Educational and health services posted the largest increase over the month, adding 9,200 jobs.

Eight sectors — mining and logging; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government — reported job declines over the month, down 34,300 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities posted the largest decrease over the month, down 11,200 jobs.

In a year-over-year comparison nonfarm payroll employment in California increased by 225,900 jobs for a gain of 1.6 percent.

The EDD reported that there were 496,500 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the December survey week. This compares with 391,870 last month and 536,442 last year. At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance were 51,545 in December 2012, compared with 39,879 in November and 80,276 in December of last year. Some of those declines reflect people whose benefits have reached their maximum allotment.

In Turlock the unemployment rate increased to 11.4 percent from 11 percent the month before. Denair’s rate grew from 7.9 percent in November to 8.3 percent in December. Hughson’s rate went from 18.8 percent in November to 19.5 percent in December. Keyes had an unemployment rate of 26 percent, up from 25.2 percent. Ceres had an unemployment rate of 18.6 percent in December, up from 18 percent in November.

According to EDD data, the Stanislaus County employers posting the most help wanted ads for December were: E. & J. Gallo Winery – 163; Sutter Health – 85; CVS Caremark – 59; Supplemental Health Care – 58; Kaiser Permanente – 52; Modesto City Schools – 31; The Judge Group – 29; Tenet Health – 27; AT&T – 27; and Ceres Unified School District – 25.