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County unemployment rate shows improvement
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The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County made another dramatic downturn in September, reaching its lowest level in nearly four years.

The Economic Development Department reported the unemployment rate in Stanislaus County came in at 13.5 percent, a drop from the 14.5 percent posted in August and below the year-ago estimate of 15.3 percent.

The September unemployment rate is the lowest rate Stanislaus County has seen since December 2008, when the unemployment rate was at 13.3 percent, according to the EDD.

The decline in unemployment is largely attributable to year-over gains in manufacturing, especially in food processing, and a surge in hiring at local school districts for the month of September.

The manufacturing sector, while posting an estimated loss of 100 positions for the month over, has gained an estimated 800 positions between September 2011 to September 2012. Food processing has seen a 15 percent increase in hiring in the year-over, according to the EDD.

School employees, who typically receive lay-off notices over the summer, are returning to work, which accounts in large part for the estimated one thousand positions gained for the month in the Government sector. Overall, hiring in the Government sector is down by an approximate 900 positions for the year-over, the EDD reported.

The harvest season, which typically extends into October, has kept farm jobs growing, with 600 positions added for the month. For the year, farm hiring is down by an estimated 100 positions.

In September Stanislaus County’s labor force remained about the same, while the number of employed increased from 201,500 in August to 204,000 in September. The number of people unemployed fell from 34,300 in August to 31,800 in September.

The unemployment rate in Merced County dropped from 15.9 percent in August to 14.5 percent in September. In San Joaquin County the unemployment rate was 13.4 percent in September, down from 14.3 percent the month before.

California's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in September, down 0.4 percentage point from August, and down 1.5 percentage points from one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in September, down 0.3 percentage point from August, and down 1.2 percentage point from one year ago.

Statewide, construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; and leisure and hospitality sectors posted job gains over the year, adding 319,600 jobs.

Professional and business services posted the largest gains on a numerical basis, adding 88,000 jobs, earning it a 4.1 percent increase. Information posted the largest gains on a percentage basis, up 6 percent by adding 25,700 jobs.

Four sectors — mining and logging; manufacturing; other services; and government — posted job declines over the year, down 57,600 jobs. Government posted the largest decline on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 41,100 jobs for a 1.7 percent decrease.

The EDD reported that there were 470,515 people receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits during the September survey week in California. This compares with 501,158 last month and 494,882 last year. At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance were 48,017 in September 2012, compared with 51,467 in August and 53,861 in September of last year.

The EDD tracks local job postings and found that in September the occupations with the most advertised openings in Stanislaus County were: Registered Nurses – 374; Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer – 363; Retail Salespersons – 200; First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers – 164; Physical Therapists – 120; Customer Service Representatives – 115; Occupational Therapists – 110; Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing – 101; First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Production & Operations – 93; and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants — 91.

The unemployment rate in Turlock dropped to 10.2 percent in September, down from 11.1 percent in August. Denair’s rate fell from 8 percent to 7.4 percent for the month. Hughson’s rate decreased from 18.9 percent in August to 17.6 percent in September. Keyes recorded an unemployment rate of 23.7 percent in September, down from the rate of 25.3 percent in August.