We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The unemployment rate in Sonoma County held steady in December at 7.7 percent, a sign that the local economy is continuing its slow climb to recovery.

New figures released Friday show the county lost 1,900 jobs from November to December, but a drop in overall jobs is typical this time of year as seasonal forces drive down employment, economists said.

Instead, they focused on the steady growth in jobs over the past year. There were 8,100 more jobs in the county than a year ago, marking the eighth straight month of year-over-year job gains, the state Employment Development Department reported on Friday.

"We're making steady progress," said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. "Everyone knew the recovery would be slow, because all the problems we've had are deep. But we're digging ourselves out."

The manufacturing sector lost the most positions from November to December, dropping 400 jobs as wineries wound down their post-harvest production. Agricultural employers, primarily vineyards, shed an additional 300 jobs during the month. Construction companies also dropped 300 jobs as projects slowed over winter.

Despite the seasonal decline, the jobs report shows the local economy is continuing to improve.

Nearly every sector of the local economy has added jobs over the past 12 months, with agriculture the only exception.

Manufacturing companies added 1,400 jobs in the past year, including 300 in computers and electronics, which tend to provide high wages and benefits. Hotels and restaurants added 1,100 jobs, while retailers added 900 jobs. Even the county's battered construction sector, where four out of 10 workers lost their jobs from 2006 to 2011, is growing again, adding 800 jobs in the past year.

Staffing agencies have been busy sending candidates to wineries and manufacturing facilities, but often for temporary roles, said Nicole Smartt, vice president and co-owner of Star Staffing. Some employers are hiring temporary workers to fill in the gaps when permanent workers get the flu, she said.

"We are getting a lot of project-based assignments," Smartt said. "People are still skeptical about hiring full-time permanently."

Looking ahead, some local executives are feeling optimistic about the business climate. Half of those surveyed recently by the Economic Development Board are planning to hire more workers this year, Stone said.

"We're seeing a thawing of the unemployment right now," Stone said. "The economy's warming up, and things are looking better for spring."

Employers will likely need more workers in accounting, finance and information technology in the coming year, Smartt said.

In the last week, the highest number of job listings received at Sonoma County Job Link were in the financial and banking positions, said Sherry Alderman, interim employment and training director. Customer service and sales openings also were popular listings.

Marin County once again had the lowest jobless rate in the state, at 5.5 percent. Unemployment stood at 7.9 percent in Napa County, 9.5 percent in Mendocino and 15.1 percent in Lake.

In Sonoma County, Monte Rio had the highest unemployment rate at 16.6 percent, and Guerneville had the second-highest rate at 14.9 percent.

Sebastopol enjoyed the lowest rate in the county, with 4.9 percent unemployment, and Glen Ellen was close behind with 5 percent.

Unemployment held steady in December in both California and the overall United States, at 9.8 percent and 7.8 percent respectively.

If You Go

On Thursday, SMART will offer round-trip public preview rides between its Rohnert Park and Marin Civic Center stations. Trains will depart southbound from SMART’s Rohnert Park Station at 8 and 10 a.m.; noon and 2 p.m. Northbound trains will depart from Marin Civic Center at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.

A SMART train aimed at providing service to the Marin County Fair will run Saturday and on July 4. That train will leave the Sonoma County Airport Station both days at 5 p.m. and arrive at the Marin Civic Center Station at
6:01 p.m.

Departures for July 1 and 4 are as follows:

5 p.m. depart Sonoma County Airport Station
5:07 p.m. Santa Rosa North Station
5:12 p.m. Santa Rosa Downtown Station
5:19 p.m. Rohnert Park Station
5:23 p.m. Cotati Station
5:36 p.m. Petaluma Downtown Station
5:47 p.m. Novato San Marin
5:55 p.m. Novato Hamilton
6:01 p.m. arrival at Marin Civic Station

Return trips from Marin Civic Center on both days take place after the fireworks celebration at 10:36 p.m. People can get on and off at any station. Departure times for the trip back to Sonoma County are as follows:

10:36 p.m. depart from Marin Civic Center Station
10:42 p.m. Novato Hamilton Station
10:50 p.m. Novato San Marin Station
11:01 p.m. Petaluma Downtown Station
11:14 p.m. Cotati Station
11:18 p.m. Rohnert Park Station
11:25 p.m. Santa Rosa Downtown Station
11:30 p.m. Santa Rosa North Station
11:37 p.m. arrival Sonoma County Airport Station

For more information about the preview rides, visit www.SonomaMarinTrain.org.

Show Comment