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Sonoma County sees seasonal rise in jobless rate

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Sonoma County’s jobless rate saw a seasonal rise in July, climbing to 5.8 percent as school employees went on summer recess.

The unemployment rate rose from 5.3 percent in June but remained below the July 2013 rate of 7 percent.

Employment at state and local education agencies declined last month by 3,000 workers, according to the state Employment Development Department. The number of private education jobs also fell by 500.

Such a decline is part of a seasonal trend seen around the North Bay and the state.

“We typically see unemployment increase at this time of year as schools scale back for the summer,” said Linda Wong, the department’s North Bay labor consultant.

During the last recession, unemployment peaked in the county at 11.2 percent in the winter of 2010. The jobless rate slowly fell for the next two years, but since August 2013 has remained below 7 percent.

The county is close to full employment as defined by economists, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

“We’ve come a long ways and now we’re more or less down to a steady state,” Stone said.

Total employment for the county in July was set preliminarily at 192,700, an increase of 3,100 jobs from a year earlier. That was the smallest monthly increase since May 2012.

However, Stone said the increase remained noteworthy given how many jobs the county has added in the last few years. And he said that companies in the wine, tourism and construction industries tell him they are still hiring.

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