Unemployment fell to a 17-year low in Sonoma County in May as the local economy continued to create jobs faster than employers could fill them, the state reported Friday.
The jobless rate dropped for the fourth consecutive month, hitting 3.0 percent in May, down from 3.2 percent in April and 3.5 percent a year ago, the state Employment Development Department reported.
It was the lowest since December 2000, when unemployment was 2.8 percent, and far below the May unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.2 percent for California and 4.1 percent for the nation.
Sonoma County had the fifth-lowest jobless rate in the state, tying with San Luis Obispo. Only Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties had lower unemployment rates among the state’s 58 counties.
Over the past year, the local economy has added 2,800 jobs, boosting countywide employment to a record 211,700.
Leading industries that added jobs over the year were: educational and health services, up 1,200 or 3.6 percent to 34,300; professional and business services, up 1,000 or 4.8 percent to 21,800; government, up 1,000 or 3 percent to 33,800; and construction, up 700 or 5.7 percent to 13,000.
Sectors that lost jobs over the year were: manufacturing, which includes winemaking, down 1,900 to 20,400; and financial activities, down 200 to 8,300.
In Mendocino County, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May, down from 4.6 percent in April and 4.4 percent a year ago.
“Looking back to 1990 in the historical labor force and employment data, I can find no time in that period in which the county experienced an unemployment rate as low as this month’s rate,” said Randy Weaver, the EDD’s North Coast labor market consultant.
The county’s economy added 290 jobs over the past year, growing to 33,290, with nine industry sectors expanding and three contracting. The largest gains in employment for the year occurred in education and health services, up 150 or 2.7 percent to 5,730; leisure and hospitality, up 120 jobs or 2.7 percent to 4,630; manufacturing, up 60 jobs or 2.3 percent to 2,630; and government, up 50 or 0.7 percent to 7,470.
Job-losing industries over the year were: information, down 10 to 240; and professional, and business services, down 30 to 1,650. In Lake County, unemployment fell to 4.9 percent in May, down from 5.6 percent in April and 5.9 percent a year ago.
The county’s economy added 710 jobs over the past year, growing to 17,470. Most of the new jobs were in the service sector, led by education and health services, up 350 or 7.9 percent to 4,790; and government, up 90 or 2 percent to 4,550. Job- losing industries were manufacturing, down 30 to 330, and information down 10 to 110.
In Napa County, unemployment dropped to 3.1 percent in May, down from 3.4 percent in April and 3.6 percent a year ago.