Jobless rate increases 76 percent in Nevada County | SierraSun.com

Jobless rate increases 76 percent in Nevada County

Ryan Slabaugh
Sierra Sun

NEVADA COUNTY ” The number of jobless residents in Nevada County increased more than 76 percent in the past year, according to a report published recently by the state’s Economic Development Department.

According to the county’s figures, the number of unemployed residents increased from 3,020 in February 2008 to 5,330 in February 2009, or 10.4 percent of the workforce. More than 200 people lost their jobs in February in Nevada County.

“In smaller counties, the numbers are going to be that much more volatile,” said Diane Patterson, analyst of the Sierra Foothills Labor Market. “We are certainly seeing a decrease in employment like we have not seen since the early 90s.”

In February 1993, the unemployment rate dropped to 10.2 percent, but improved to 7.2 percent by December. That was the last year the rate reached double digits.

The biggest drop in the county in February occurred in national resources, mining and construction industries, which lost nearly 600 jobs in the past year and employed 17.9 percent fewer employees.

Placer County, which has a workforce almost four times that of Nevada County’s, saw similar declines year-over-year, and is looking at 10.3 percent unemployment rate.

Statewide, 10.9 percent of California residents are unemployed, slightly higher than the county’s current rate. The national average is 8.9 percent.

“This is really disappointing but not surprising given the national numbers for February. It’s horrible here and in nearly every other state,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

Sharp declines in construction, manufacturing, finance, trade, transportation, professional services, leisure, health and education are blamed for the losses over the past month. The construction industry alone shed nearly 31,000 jobs in the last month.

The agency said about 1.95 million Californians are unemployed ” up by 80,000 residents over the month. February’s unemployment rate was 10.1 percent. Since February last year, the state has lost more than 600,000 jobs, a 4 percent drop.

There was a glimmer of bright news in several industries. Information jobs were up 7,900 in February over the previous month. And the state added nearly 31,000 teaching and health services jobs since February 2008, a 1.8 percent increase.

Colusa County has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 26 percent.