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Year closes with spike in unemployment rate
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The end of 2011 brought an increase in Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate, closing at 16.1 percent for December, according to the latest figures from the Economic Development Department.

December’s unadjusted seasonal unemployment rate of 16.1 percent was well above the revised 15.4 percent rate posted in November. But below the year-ago estimate of 17.5 percent. The county hadn’t been in the 16 percent range since August.

The county’s increase is not completely attributable to lost jobs. While the ranks of the unemployed grew by an estimated 1,800 people between November and December, the labor force also grew by 800, meaning more people responded in the affirmative to the EDD survey that they were looking for work than they did in November.

California’s unemployment rate in December decreased to 11.1 percent with an increase of 10,700 jobs, according to the EDD.

The unemployment rate for the nation was 8.5 percent in December.

In Merced County the unemployment rate grew from 16.9 percent in November to 18.7 in December. In San Joaquin County the rate was 15.9 percent in December, which is a slight increase from the 15.5 percent unemployment rate in November.

The biggest employment loss in Stanislaus County during December was in the farming sector, which saw a decrease of an estimated 900 jobs. The farming sector historically sees a decrease in jobs during the winter months, according to the EDD data.

The construction and manufacturing sectors in Stanislaus County also saw job losses for the month, with estimates at 100 jobs each. However, for the year, manufacturing posted a job growth of about 500 positions. Most of the job growth was in the manufacturing of nondurable goods, according to the EDD’s data.

For December the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector saw an increase of an approximate 100 positions in the county, which was solely attributed to hiring done at clothing and accessories stores, the EDD reported. For the year, the sector as a whole was down in hirings by 2.5 percent.

For the final month of the year, the EDD found Stanislaus County had an average of 4,500 job posting advertisements with an estimated 37,800 unemployed people.

The employers with the most job ads in December were: Kaiser Permanente at 128; E & J Gallo Winery at 77; and Sutter Health at 55.

The occupations with the most advertised openings in Stanislaus County for December were: Registered nurses at 260; truck drivers at 193; receptionists and information clerks at 148; and executive secretaries and administrative assistants at 112.

Modesto had the most jobs advertised in December 3,847, followed by Turlock at 382; Ceres 112; and Patterson 68.

Turlock’s unemployment rate in December grew to 12.3 percent, up from 11.8 percent, representing an estimated 3,500 unemployed people. All the surrounding communities saw increases in the unemployment rates for December. Denair was at 8.9 percent; Hughson 20.8 percent; and Keyes 27.7 percent.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.