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Placer jobless rate drops to lowest level since 2008

But concerns still linger after deep recession as rate falls to 8.8 percent
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Placer County’s jobless rate is at 8.8 percent – the lowest it has been since December 2008, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department. The unemployment rate stood at 8 percent in December 2008 and then shot up to 9.1 percent in January 2009. September statistics for Placer County and the region released Friday by Employment Development’s Labor Market Information Division showed that the four-county region that also includes El Dorado, Sacramento and Yolo counties is being led by Placer in a jobs recovery. The unemployment rate in the four-county area was 9.7 percent in September – down from 10.3 percent in August, and below the year-ago estimate of 11.5 percent. September’s survey showed El Dorado County with a 9 percent jobless rate, Sacramento County with 10.2 percent and Yolo County with 9 percent. Nevada County – not included in the regional statistics had an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent – down from 10.1 percent in September 2011. The four-county region’s jobless figure matches the unemployment rate of 9.7 percent for California but trails the 7.6 percent national jobless figure. Within those numbers, labor market consultant Justin Wehner said he sees three strong performers among the review’s 12 sectors and eight of twelve in positive territory, year over year. “One has had neutral growth and the three others have had relatively small declines,” Wehner said. Overall, the region is up 17,200 jobs from a year ago. “If we get a little bit lucky and get a little more growth, we would see all industries in neutral of positive territory for once this year,” Wehner said. On a year-over-year basis transportation and utilities sector job growth has been the most buoyant, Wehner said. While the numbers point to a renewed vigor in the local economy, Auburn Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bruce Cosgrove said that caution is still part of the equation as business people increasingly plan for the future rather than just trying to survive. “It’s encouraging that the numbers have dropped,” Cosgrove said. “In 2008, everything toppled. All of us in the business world, including the Chamber of Commerce, reduced staff and cut costs wherever we could. Over the next two or three years, businesses measured their success in terms of surviving.” But over the past year, small businesses in the Auburn area have generally developed a more positive outlook. “The outlook is still guarded but they’re not as concerned now about hiring as they were,” Cosgrove said. The latest jobless count was surprising news to Kat Stewart, owner of Kats Country Korner on Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. “I’m surprised because I hear of so many people still not finding jobs and of companies closing down in California or leaving the state,” Stewart said. “I’d like to see some more ways for this state to encourage business.” Low unemployment According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these five states had the lowest jobless rates in the nation in September: North Dakota 3 percent Nebraska 3.9 South Dakota 4.4 Oklahoma 5.2 Iowa 5.2