Stanislaus County unemployment dipped to 14.5 percent for August, its lowest point since December 2008, when jobless numbers were at 13.3 percent.
The drop largely was due to seasonal trends in area hiring, and less with overall job growth. The county typically experiences a decrease of about 1 percentage point in unemployment from July to August when agriculture and food manufacturing hit a high. This year, the rate fell 1.2 percentage points from 15.7 percent in July, according to the state Employment Development Department.
Its not pretty for Modesto. There are still better and improving job numbers around you, said Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. I think its getting closer, but Modesto is still waiting.
The employed labor force in Stanislaus County grew by 500 jobs from August 2011 to August 2012. But the overall labor force the total number of people in the county bothlooking for work and with work shrank by about 3,000 people. Last year in August, unemployment sat at 16.1 percent.
As expected, the largest month-to-month increase in the county was in manufacturing, which added 2,600 jobs from July to August and 800 jobs from 2011 to 2012. Government continues to be the weakest industry in the county, losing 400 jobs from July and 700 jobs from 2011.
These are still positive numbers, but at a slower rate, said Nati Martinez, a labor market analyst for the EDD. But year over year, I wish things were stronger.
Michael said surrounding counties like San Joaquin could be seeing a faster pickup thanks to proximity to the Bay Area, which has seen a stronger recovery. Other struggling parts of the state, such as the inland counties in Southern California, are beginning to see more of a recovery, too.
But despite Modestos slow crawl toward recovery, Michael said the area should continue to see improvement. Manufacturing looks decent in the county, but other things are slower than youd expect if you were really sharing in this recovery, he said. You are still kind of staying flat. Hopefully, we will see it pick up in the second part of the year.
Statewide, the unemployment rate dipped slightly in August to 10.6 percent, down from 10.7 percent the previous month, according to the EDD. The state added nearly 300,000 new jobs over the past year, with job growth in 12 of the past 13 months. Last year at this time, unemployment in the state was at 11.9 percent.
Statewide, the health services, education, construction, manufacturing, financial activities and hospitality sectors saw the biggest growth in August. As in the county, the biggest losses were in the government sector, which shed 7,400 jobs.
A report released this week by the UCLA Anderson Forecast projected that the California unemployment rate would remain in double digits through the end of the year before falling to 8.5 percent in 2014.
Californias tech boom has been helping the state outperform the nation in job creation since 2010. But the Central Valley has not been able to capitalize on the high-tech industrys success, and continues a much slower recovery.
Californias jobless rate remains the third-highest in the nation, behind Nevada and Rhode Island. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.