Placer County job picture brightens, state statistics show

Unemployment drops below 10 percent as healthcare continues to show strength
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Placer County?s unemployment rate reversed an upward trend by dropping in April to 9.6 percent, state figures show. The county?s unemployment rate, as estimated by the state Employment Development Department?s Labor Market Information Division, fell in April to 9.5 percent after reaching 10.5 percent in March. The county?s rate was one of the lowest in the region, with only Nevada County having a slightly better jobless picture. While Nevada County could claim 9.5 percent unemployment in April (down from 10.5 percent in March), Sacramento County?s was 10.5 percent , Yolo County?s was 12.3 percent and El Dorado County had 10.6 percent. Sacramento labor-market analyst Justin Wehner, said Monday that probably the most interesting aspect of the April regional report was the overall year-over-year performance. From April 2011 to April 2012, the total numbers of jobs located in the region decreased by 100 or 0.01 percent. ?Looking at levels from a year ago, we?re only down 100, which is very different from how it?s been for us over the course of the last several years,? Wehner said. ?When we look at the last time we?ve been anywhere near even or in positive territory, it was in the second half of 2007. That?s a long time.? In the deepest doldrums of the recession in 2009, the region registered a minus-61,000 job loss. The unemployment rate for the four-county region of Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and Sacramento, was 10.5 percent, down from a revised 11.5 percent in March and below the year-ago estimate of 11.7 percent. Between March and April, total salary and wage employment inside the four counties increased by 4,200 to 813,400 jobs. The largest increase was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which expanded by 1,200 jobs, according to the Employment Development Department?s new report. Year-over-year results showed education and health services with the biggest gains. Healthcare and social assistance (up 3,300 jobs) was the biggest gainer in the sector. ?Healthcare has been driving the region for many years and probably the most resilient industry,? Wehner said. ?It has anchored the region.? Construction reported a seasonal increase of 800 jobs. The majority of the increase in the sector occurred outside of specialty trade contractors, down 2,800 jobs, and construction of buildings (a drop of 100 jobs. Wehner said the long-term average increase at this time of year for construction is 1,000 jobs). April?s numbers show Placer County and the region with better jobless percentages than the state as a whole. California?s jobless rate in April was 10.9 percent, down from a revised 11 percent in March ? and below the year-ago rate of 11.8 percent. Placer County?s unemployment rate was ranked 17th lowest of 58 counties. No. 1 was Marin County, with a jobless rate of 6.4 percent. No. 58 was Imperial County, with a rate of 26.8 percent. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the nation during April was 8.1 percent.