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.
The local job market still faces risks from turmoil in the global economy and California's budget problems, Stone said.
Still, the latest data show employers have more confidence in the direction of the economy, he said.
The labor market is improving, but it's still hard to find a job, said Karen Fies, who oversees Sonoma County's Job Link program.
"There's a steady stream of people looking for work," she said.
Networking is key for job seekers. Many companies aren't advertising openings because they don't want to be swamped with applicants, she said. It's especially tough for young people seeking their first permanent job, Fies said.
Sonoma County usually gains jobs in May as agriculture, tourism and construction gear up for their busy seasons.
But last month's growth was stronger than average, up 3,700 jobs from April. Construction, farming, manufacturing, retail and hospitality posted the largest monthly gains.
California also saw unemployment dip in May. The jobless rate was 11.7 percent, down from 11.8 percent in April and 12.4 percent a year ago.
U.S. unemployment increased in May to 9.1 percent.
About 2.1 million Californians are out of work, down more than 134,000 from the same month last year. Over 553,000 were receiving unemployment insurance benefits in May.
More than 446,000 unemployed workers in California have run out of benefits.
In Napa County, the May jobless rate was 8.7 percent, down from 9.6 percent in April.
Mendocino County reported 10.6 percent unemployment, compared to 11.6 percent for the prior month.
In Lake County, the rate was 16.8 percent, down from 18.2 percent in April.
Marin County reported the lowest jobless rate for the state at 7.4 percent, compared to 7.7 percent for April. Imperial County had the highest at 27.7 percent.