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Unemployment rates take slight dip in December

A shrinking labor force and a consistent employment are to thank for local unemployment rates either improving or remaining fairly unchanged across Stanislaus County and Merced County during the month of December, according to the State of California Employment Development Department (EDD).

During the holiday season, the unemployment rate dropped in Stanislaus County from 5.6% to 5.3%, while Merced County had a 7.4% rate compared to the 7.3% rate of November. The local statistics compare to a 3.7% rate statewide and a 3.3% national rate.

In Stanislaus County, the labor force decreased from 238,200 individuals to 236,200 individuals. Despite the smaller workforce, five different industries added 100 or more jobs. Those industries are education, health care and social work, warehousing and utilities, trades, and transportation. Over in Merced County, there was a similar trend as the labor force went from 116,600 to 115,400. The only industry to see significant job growth was the leisure and hospitality sector.

Another thing that the two counties shared was the dramatic increase in cold, windy and wet weather, which led to a significant drop off in farming jobs. Between Stanislaus and Merced, approximately 3,700 farming jobs were lost, pretty much erasing any progress made by the few hiring industries.

Heading into January, the city of Turlock had an unemployment rate of 3.8%, translating into about 1,300 individuals without work. Up north in Ceres, the city also reports there being around 1,300 individuals without work, translating to a rate of 6.2%. Down south in Delhi is where the highest rate of unemployment in the region is as the city reports 8.6%, or 500 unemployed individuals out of their 5,400-person labor force. Further south, the city of Livingston had a 6.9% rate with 400 individuals unemployed. In Denair, there is also a high rate of 7.7% with around 200 people without a job. Meanwhile, the cities of Hilmar, Hughson and Keyes each had local unemployment numbers hovering around the 100 mark.

With a decreased labor force and minimal job growth, there remain several industries looking to fill positions. According to the EDD, there are currently over 2,000 health care and social assistance jobs in Stanislaus County and over 400 in Merced County. And despite the end to the holiday shopping season, retail jobs remain the next highest in demand with there being 845 openings in Stanislaus County and 288 in Merced County.

For job search tools and resources, community members are encouraged to go to