Placer unemployment at 9.6 percent in July

Some workers power through Labor Day
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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On Monday while many people enjoyed a day of relaxation, Bryan McCallister bustled around behind the bar and in the kitchen of Little Belgium Deli.

Little Belgium Deli was open on Labor Day for the first time this year. McCallister, co-owner of Little Belgium with Eric Nordby, said last year he wasn't sure how his business would fare being open for the holiday.

After the amount of business he saw on Monday, McCallister said he'll definitely be open on Labor Day next year.

"It seems to be working out really well. I assumed the river would be packed today and our food is pretty good for that," McCallister said.

McCallister and his staff were just a few of many workers who spent their time toiling away during the Labor Day holiday. Brandon Gallawa, a sales associate at Auburn Toyota, not only worked on Monday, he also marked his one-year anniversary of working at the car dealership that day.

A year after working his first Labor Day, Gallawa is just thankful to have a job.

"I don't miss having the day off. I look at what I get out of working today, like getting to leave a few hours early, plus I've got to put food on the table," Gallawa said.

In a labor market still reeling from the Recession, Gallawa is right to be grateful to be at work. Placer County's unemployment rate for July was 9.6 percent, according to statistics provided by the California Employment Development Department.

Placer County had a labor force of 177,100 in July, which includes those who are 16 or older who are able to work and are actively seeking work, according to Justin Wehner, labor market consultant with the California Employment Development Department.

"So it does not include people that are retired, people who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work and people who have any reason to stop actively seeking work," Wehner said.

In Auburn the unemployment rate in July was 7.8 percent. The highest unemployment rate for a specific area in Placer County was Lincoln, which had an unemployment rate of 17 percent in July. Loomis had the lowest unemployment rate that month at 5.7 percent.

Wehner said Placer County's unemployment rate was at its peak in January and March of 2010 when it reached 11.8 percent during both months. He added if Placer County wants to see its unemployment rate drop further from its highest point jobs need to be created in a few main areas.

As of December 2011, the most recent data available, 21 percent of all employment in Placer County came from the trade, transportation and utility industry. The health services industry was responsible for almost 16 percent of all employment in the county.

Almost 15 percent of all jobs came from state and local government positions, including those in school districts, and 13 percent of all jobs were dedicated to "arts and leisure services," Wehner said.

"A lot of areas in California are close to their historical highs, and those have gotten better, but we've to see growth in those key industries for that unemployment rate to come down because those are the largest contributors to employment in Placer County," Wehner said.

Placer County fared slightly better than its surrounding counterparts when it comes to unemployment in July. El Dorado County had an unemployment rate of 10 percent in July with a workforce of 91,500.

The highest rate of unemployment for a specific area in El Dorado County was in Georgetown, which had a rate of 16.6 percent. The lowest point was in El Dorado Hills, which had an unemployment rate of 6 percent in July.

In Yolo County the unemployment rate in July was 10.5 percent with a labor force of 98,100. The lowest unemployment rate within the county was in Davis at 6.7 percent and the highest was in West Sacramento at 16.2 percent.

"It's basically the same story for a lot of areas across California. They've all had historically high unemployment rates and are not very far off their peaks," Wehner said. "But Placer County seems to have performed relatively better than some other counties in the Sacramento metropolitan division."

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.