Sonoma County's falling unemployment rate buoys economists

The jobless rate in Sonoma County fell slightly in November to 6 percent, down from 6.1 percent in October, as seasonal job gains in the retail sector and other budding industries helped offset farm and manufacturing sector losses at the end of harvest and the peak tourism season.

The county's unemployment rate for November showed significant improvement from the year-ago jobless estimate of 7.7 percent, a sign the local economy continues to recover from its woes several years ago, observers said.

The total number of jobs in Sonoma County this November was 3,600 higher than the tally a year ago.

"The trajectory is a good one," said Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. "Where we have layoffs it's mostly in seasonal industries. And if you look at the broad thrust of the recovery, our rankings in the state continue to get better."

Sonoma County is now among six counties with the lowest unemployment rates in California.

As usual, Marin County had the lowest jobless rate in the state, clocking in at 4.6 percent. Other counties rounding out the top six for job rates were San Mateo, San Francisco, Orange, Napa and San Luis Obispo counties.

Statewide, the unemployment rate decreased to 8.5 percent in November, down from 8.7 percent last month.

Unemployment in counties neighboring Sonoma rose over the period, with the loss of farm and tourism-related jobs outpacing any gains in other sectors.

In Napa County, the rate rose to 6 percent in November, up from 5.3 percent in October.

Lake County had the highest unemployment rate in the region with 12.2 percent, up from 11.6 percent in October. In Mendocino County the rate climbed to 7.4 percent, up from 7 percent.

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