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Help-wanted ads on the rise in Sonoma County

Sonoma County employers are slowly putting out help-wanted signs again.

There were 4,600 local job openings posted in July, up from 4,000 in January, according to a new report by The Conference Board and state labor analysts.

While there are still six unemployed people for every job opening, the county's job market is slowly improving.

"It's a slow but consistent upward trend in employment," said Eduardo Martinez, an economist who tracks Sonoma County business trends for Moody's Analytics.

But recent turmoil in world markets could interrupt the growth, said Ben Stone, who heads Sonoma County's Economic Development Board.

"People were hiring two months ago, but they may be more cautious today because of the financial turbulence in Europe and slowing of the Chinese economy," he said.

Unemployment has been at or near double digits for more than two years in Sonoma County, where there are 26,000 unemployed job-seekers looking for work.

The health care sector continues to generate the most job openings in Sonoma County. Kaiser Permanente, Medtronic, Sutter Health and the Medical Staffing Network were among the employers with the most ads in July.

Santa Rosa City Schools, Petaluma solar component maker Enphase Energy, Staples office supply stores and two other staffing companies also were in the top 10.

Still, help-wanted ads are far below the levels seen before the recession. Sonoma County employers posted nearly 7,000 jobs a month in 2007.

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