Strong job-growth in the six counties that commonly make up the “North Bay” made 2015 an impressive year. Leading sectors include construction, retail and health care, despite a slight rise in some of the counties’ unemployment rates in December, according to the latest state figures.
Unemployment rates in Sonoma, Solano and Marin counties remained the same last month from November, while rates for Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties inched upward, according to monthly figures from the state Employment Development Department released Jan. 22. However, all those counties’ joblessness rates remain below rates from 2014.
“Most of the North Bay counties show the unemployment rate bottoming out in September and starting to creep up a bit,” said Robert Eyler, professor and chair of economics at Sonoma State University and interim CEO of Marin Economic Forum. “It’s likely that the figures will stay stable, [changing about] 0.5 percent through 2016.”
The preliminary unemployment rate estimate for Sonoma County was 4.2 percent in December, unchanged from a revised 4.2 percent in November but below the year-ago estimate of 5.0 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for California and 4.8 percent for the nation during the same period.
The county slipped to sixth place from fifth for among the lowest jobless rates in the state, preceded now by Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.
Sonoma County Economic Development Board noted that the highest unemployment rates were in Forestville at 7.1 percent, Guerneville at 6.5 percent and Cotati at 5.6 percent. The lowest rates came from the communities of Bodega Bay, Occidental, Graton and Glen Ellen, all under 2.1 percent. Santa Rosa’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, slightly above the county average.
Total employment in Sonoma County increased by 6,200 in 2015, up 3.1 percent. The number of Sonoma County nonfarm jobs for December was up 300, or 0.2 percent, to 199,800, and for the year up 5,800, or 3 percent. Farming employment for the month increased by 100 to 5,400 jobs, up 1.9 percent, and for the year up 400, or 8.0 percent.
Leading job-adding industries over the year were construction, adding 1,400 jobs, or 13.6 percent, to total 11,700; education and health services, up 1,100 jobs, or 3.4 percent, to 33,700; professional and business services, up 2,200, or 11 percent, to 22,200; and retail-dominating trade, transportation and utilities up 1,100, or 2.9 percent, to 38,600.
Job losing industries over 12 months were manufacturing, down 1,100 jobs, or 5.4 percent, to 19,100; mining and logging, down 100 jobs, or 33.3 percent, to 200; state government, down 200, or 3.8 percent, to 5,000; and state government excluding education, down 200, or 7.7 percent, to 2,400.
Solano County unemployment rate was figured to be 5.6 percent last month, ranked 18th out of California’s 58 counties for lowest joblessness. That rate was unchanged from a revised 5.6 percent in November but below 6.6 percent a year before.
Job-gaining industries over 12 months were construction, up 1,200 jobs, or 14.5 percent, to 9,500; trade, transportation and utilities, up 900 jobs, or 3.2 percent, to 28,600; leisure and hospitality, up 7.9 percent, or 1,200 jobs, to 16,300; and professional and business services, up 5.2 percent, or 500 jobs, to 10,200.
The unemployment rate in Marin County was 3.2 percent in December, unchanged from a revised 3.2 percent in November and still in second place behind San Mateo County. The joblessness estimate a year before was 3.6 percent.
Job-gaining industries over 12 months were professional and business services, up 1,700, or 9.3 percent, to 20,000; trade, transportation and utilities, up 1,000, or 5.1 percent, to 20,600; and educational and health services, up 2,100, or 10.4 percent, to 22,300.
Napa County’s unemployment rate estimate was 5.1 percent last month, up from a revised 4.8 percent in November 2015, and below the year-ago estimate of 5.6 percent. The county ranked 13th in the state last month, down from 11th place in November.
Job-gaining industries over 12 months were leisure and hospitality, up 300, or 2.5 percent, to 12,400; manufacturing, which includes winemaking, up 700, or 5.9 percent, to 12,600; and trade, transportation and utilities up 300, at 2.9 percent, to 10,600.
Mendocino County’s preliminary December unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, a rise of 0.5 percentage points from the revised November figure of 5.4 percent. The year-over rate was 0.8 percentage points below the December 2014 rate of 6.7 percent.
Mendocino’s rate fell to No. 24 statewide last month from No. 17.
Total Mendocino industry employment ebbed by 130 jobs from November to December, down 0.3 percent, but was is up for the year by 620 jobs, or 1.9 percent. Eight industry sectors gained jobs, one remained unchanged and three declined.
Farm jobs over 12 months grew by 70, or 5 percent at 1,460, and nonfarm jobs increased by 550, or 1.8 percent, to 31,580.
Job-gaining industries were education and health services, up 240, or 3.9 percent, to 6,400; government, up 130, or 1.8 percent, to 7,260; construction, up 60, or 6.6 percent, to 970.
Losses for the year were professional and business services, down 10 positions, or 0.6 percent, to 1,570, and financial activities, down 30, or 2.8 percent, to 1,040.
The unemployment rate in the Lake County was 7.3 percent in December, up from a revised 7.2 percent figure for November but below the year-ago estimate of 8.6 percent. The county’s rate ranked 32nd last month.
One of the largest gains in employment for the year was the service industry, adding 390 jobs, or 2.7 percent, to total 14,810. Also gaining for the year were education and health services, up 170, or 3.7 percent, to 4,720; trade transportation and utilities, up 130, or 4.4 percent, to 3,060; and retail trade, up 110, or 5.0 percent, to 2,330.
This story originally appeared in The Northbay Business Journal on January 22, 2016