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Harvest season boosts county employment
Merced County total employment grew 3.99%, the fastest among the San Joaquin Valley’s eight counties in 2021. Stanislaus County total employment grew the second fastest at 3.56%.

The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County showed some improvement in August, largely from seasonal positions related to harvest times, according to the latest numbers from the Employment Development Department.

The unemployment rate for August in Stanislaus County was at 10.9 percent, down from a revised rate of 13.6 percent in July, but well above the year-ago estimate of 5.8 percent.

Several sectors in Stanislaus County posted job gains for the month of August, though all but one were down when compared to the same time frame last year.

The farming sector added an estimated 1,100 jobs during the month of August, but is down for the year by approximately 2,400 positions, according to the EDD.

The manufacturing sector added an estimated 1,700 jobs for the month, but was down for the year by approximately 900 positions. Of the 1,700 jobs added for the month, almost all of them were in food manufacturing, which typically adds seasonal jobs during the harvest months, according to the EDD.

The Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector, which includes retail, added around 400 jobs for the month, but was down by an estimated 4,300 jobs for the year, according to the EDD.

Other sectors posting job gains for the month were: Government (400), Educational and Health Services (100), Professional and Business Services (500), and Mining, Logging and Construction (100).

The Leisure and Hospitality sector in Stanislaus County continues to be hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the month of August, the sector lost an estimated 100 jobs and is down for the year by approximately 5,000 positions.

The only sector to post a gain in jobs from the same time as last year was the Government sector, which was up for the year by about 400 positions.

California’s unemployment rate improved to 11.4 percent in August as the state’s employers added 101,900 jobs, the EDD reported. California has now regained nearly a third (33.9 percent) of the 2,615,800 nonfarm jobs lost during March and April as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Government (+66,100) had the largest job gain due to federal temporary hiring for the 2020 Census and growth in local government education. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities’ increase (+26,000) was buoyed by Transportation and Warehousing and general merchandise stores.

Leisure and Hospitality posted the largest industry job loss in August (-14,600), and 561,900 of the sector’s 633,000 year-over job losses have occurred since March 2020.

The month-over decrease in California’s unemployment rate (-2.1 percentage points) was larger than that of the nation as a whole (-1.8 percentage points).

In related data that figures into the state’s unemployment rate, there were 2,837,209 people certifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the August 2020 sample week. That compares to 3,144,098 people in July 2020 and 309,691 people in August 2019. Concurrently, 196,855 initial claims were processed in the August 2020 sample week, which was a month-over decrease of 47,651 claims from July 2020, but a year-over increase of 162,080 claims from August 2019.

Unemployment benefits supporting California workers, their families and local communities struggling through this historic pandemic now total more than $86 billion, the EDD reported. Since mid-March, the critical benefits stem from more than 13-million claims processed by the California Employment Development Department between the regular Unemployment Insurance program and extension claims, as well as the separate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The number of claims processed over the last six months are more than triple the worst full year of the Great Recession when 3.8 million claims were processed in 2010.