Placer County jobless rate rises again to 10.5 percent

Local government, education provides a boost in job numbers
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Placer County’s unemployment crept upward again for a second consecutive month, rising to 10.5 percent, according to state Employment Development Department figures. The department’s figures for March were released Friday and show Placer County’s jobless rate still lower than adjacent counties El Dorado, Yolo and Sacramento. The unemployment rate for the four-county region was 11.6 percent in March, up from a revised 11.4 percent in February, but below the year-ago estimate of 12.3 percent. The unemployment rate was 11.9 percent in El Dorado County, 11.4 percent in Sacramento County and 10.4 percent in Nevada County. That compares with the Labor Market Information Division’s unemployment rates in February of 11.6 percent in El Dorado County, 11.2 percent in Sacramento County and 10.1 percent in Nevada County. Justin Wehner, a labor market analyst with the information division, said that March was a below-average month for job increases. “When you look at all the changes going back 22 years, the average increase from February to March was 5,500 jobs,” Wehner said. “The average increase is pretty high but this month was below what it usually averages.” Statewide, the unemployment rate increased to 11 percent in March from 10.9 percent in February. The Employment Development Department also reported a second federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample in the state that the survey of employers, which shows an increase in the number of employed people. It estimates the number of Californians holding jobs in March was 16,457,000, a slight increase of 2,000 jobs from February. The figures showed the number of people unemployed was 2,031,000 – up by 19,000 over the month, but down by 148,000 compared with March of last year. While the unemployment rate rose, the Employment Development Department reported a rise month-to-month of wage and salary employment in the four-county area taking in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo. The increase was 4,800, to a total of 807,800 jobs. Government was strong from February to March, with an increase of 2,300 jobs. Local government accounted for the majority of the increase – up 1,600 jobs. State government gained 600 jobs and federal government added 100 jobs. Typically on the increase when warmer, sunnier weather arrives, the construction industry was still lagging. “When we look at our numbers, of the 4,800 new jobs, construction was only about 300 of that and well below its average of 900,” Wehner said. “Construction was less strong than one would think, especially at this time of year.” Government and education represented almost half of the jobs increase, Wehner noted. The private sector was also a source of job gains. “Professional and business services usually gains about 600 jobs and this time gained almost triple that, with about 1,700 jobs,” Wehner said.