Sonoma County jobless rate drops to 8.6 percent

Sonoma County unemployment fell to 8.6 percent in April — its lowest mark in more than three years — fueled by job growth in the private sector, state labor analysts said Friday.

The number of unemployed job-seekers has dropped more than 10 percent in the past year, according to the state Employment Development Department.

"That's better than usual," said Linda Wong, a state labor market consultant.

Still, the local economy created just 100 non-farm jobs over the last 12 months, as private industry growth was offset by job cuts in the government sector.

Manufacturing, construction, hospitality and business and professional services added 3,400 jobs over the past year.

But government employment is down by 2,700 during the same period. Finance, information and retail also lost jobs in the last year.

About 22,300 county residents were looking for work last month, compared to 24,900 a year ago.

Sonoma County's jobless rate had not been below 9 percent since January 2009, when it was 8.4 percent. The April figures are good news, said Ben Stone, director of Sonoma County's Economic Development Board.

Unemployment stood at 9.6 percent a year ago, and was 9.5 percent in March.

But there's been little growth in the county's labor force during the last three years, a sign that some of the jobless have stopped looking for work, he said.

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