Unemployment continues to drop in Sonoma County in May

Sonoma County unemployment fell to 9.4 percent in May, its second consecutive month in single digits, as most sectors of the economy reported job growth, labor analysts said Friday.

The jobless rate was 10 percent a year ago.

"For Sonoma County, it's improving," said Linda Wong, a consultant for the state Employment Development Department.

Unemployment was a revised 9.9 percent in April.

The local economy added 1,800 jobs over the past year. Construction, which fell dramatically during the recession, has gained jobs for six straight months, adding 800 since last year.

Business and professional services, retail trade, health care and hospitality also gained significantly.

Government was the biggest loser, down 800 positions over the past 12 months. Manufacturing shed 100 jobs.

About 24,000 county residents were looking for work in May, compared to 25,500 a year ago. Unemployment hasn't been 9.4 percent or lower in Sonoma County since mid-2009, according to labor analysts. The monthly jobless rate fell below 10 percent just once last year.

It's too soon to forecast a long-term downward trend, said Ben Stone, director of the county's Economic Development Board.

"Two months don't make a trend," he said.

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