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Sonoma County jobless rate dips to 6.6 percent

Sonoma County's unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in August as the county continued to show long-term job growth in the health care, hospitality and business service sectors.

The jobless rate declined from 7.1 percent in July, according to data released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

The county continues to benefit from job growth in several sectors, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

For example, he said, health care has been one of the county's faster growing areas.

"I would guess that's also going to continue as Obamacare comes along," Stone said.

Last month the state's unemployment rate increased to 8.9 percent from 8.7 percent in July. The U.S. rate was 7.3 percent.

A decade ago unemployment in the county stood at 5.6 percent. But the rate climbed to 10 percent in the summer of 2009 and hovered near or above that level for two years.

Unemployment has declined significantly from 10 percent in August 2011. It reached its lowest point since the recession at 6.1 percent in May.

In August, the jobless rate fell partly because 800 people dropped out of the labor force, but also because total non-farm employment increased by 1,500 jobs.

The single-biggest increase last month was in local schools, a jump of 800 from July that is deemed typical around the start of the academic year.

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