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Sonoma County unemployment rate rises to 8.3 percent

Sonoma County's unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in January, reflecting a seasonal slowdown that didn't negate job gains made over the last year.

The unemployement rate was a decline from 9.5 percent in January 2012.

The county lost 3,000 non-farm jobs from December, the state reported Friday. Those reductions included positions in stores and restaurants that disappeared after the holiday season ended.

The number of workers still was 5,600 higher in January than a year earlier. The total number of jobs, 175,600, was the most recorded in January since 2009. Total employment in the county has increased for eight straight months on a year-over-year basis, according to revised figures released Friday.

“This just continues the slow recovery we're seeing,” said Ben Stone, director of the county's Economic Development Board. The increasing number of jobs from a year earlier shows “we are continuing to make strides.”

The county's unemployment rate increased from 7.8 percent in December.

For California, the January unemployment rate climbed to 10.4 percent, and for the nation, 8.5 percent. Both reported seasonal increases from December.

A rise in unemployment is typical for January, but the loss of jobs in the county this year appears less than usual, said Linda Wong, a labor consultant for the state Employment Development Department.

Over the last year, the increase in employment has been “a good sign, but we'll have to wait to see” whether the trend continues through 2013, she said.

Of the state's 58 counties, Sonoma had the eighth-lowest unemployment rate. Marin ranked first at 5.8 percent. Napa ranked 7th at 8 percent.

Mendocino ranked 18th at 9.9 percent and Lake ranked 43rd at 15.5 percent.

The release of the county unemployment figures was delayed because of revisions in data provided to the state by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February's employment data is slated to be released Friday March 29.

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