Job growth in Sonoma County shattered records for the third straight month in October as local employers continued to expand their payrolls, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
Local companies added 6,500 wage and salary jobs over the past year, pushing employment to a record 207,800 workers in October.
“Adding jobs is huge,” said Ben Stone, executive director of the county’s Economic Development Board. “We continue to recover, and it’s broad-based — not just one industry, but various industries across the board.”
Despite the hiring spree, unemployment rose for the first time in three months, ticking up to 4.2 percent in October. Companies that manufacture nondurable goods shed 1,110 jobs between September and October, or nearly 9 percent of their workforce.
Janet Klaven, a labor market consultant for the state Employment Development Department, said a swelling labor force combined with a slight increase in unemployment could mean that “new job seekers are not finding employment right away.”
The jobless rate had fallen to an eight-year low in Sonoma County in September, dropping to 3.8 percent. Despite the increase in unemployment in October, the jobless rate is still far below levels from a year ago, when it stood at 5.2 percent.
“I would say we’ve done well from last year,” Klaven said. “It’s starting to match pre-recession levels.”
Stone said the monthly uptick in unemployment is possibly related to the slowdown in the Chinese economy and companies that export there.
But he downplayed it as “very small, percentage-wise.”
“It’s like getting your cholesterol tested. Every time you do it, you get a little different number for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s the same with the economy.”
Stone said employees are still in the driver’s seat.
“It’s a great time to look for work,” he said. “We haven’t had it this good for a decade if you’re looking for work.”
One area that showed strength was the tourism sector, which added 1,000 jobs from September to October.
That’s counter to a typical drop over the past decade, when leisure and hospitality jobs dipped by about 200 between September and October, according to Klaven.
Statewide, unemployment declined to 5.8 percent in October. The U.S. jobless rate also dropped, to 5.0 percent.
But unemployment rose across the North Coast.
In Mendocino County, the jobless rate rose to 5.0 percent in October, up from 4.5 percent in September. A year ago, it stood at 6.0 percent.
In Lake County, the jobless rate was 6.9 percent in October, up from 6.0 percent in September. It stood at 7.8 percent a year ago.
In Napa County, the jobless rate rose to 4.2 percent in October, up from 3.6 percent in September. A year ago, it stood at 4.8 percent.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @clarkmas.