Unemployment rate stuck at 12.2 percent for Stanislaus County, about double the national average

jnsbranti@modbee.comJanuary 24, 2014 

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    Unemployment Rate for December 2013
    United States 6.5%
    California7.9%
    Merced County14.2%
    San Joaquin County12.1%
    Stanislaus County12.2%
    Tuolumne County8.5%

Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate stayed at 12.2 percent in December, which is nearly double the national average.

Despite Stanislaus’ flat jobless rate, the total number of county residents with jobs declined by 1,100 between November and December, according to government estimates released Friday.

That wasn’t the case for California as a whole. The state added several thousand jobs during the month, which helped its unemployment rate dip to 7.9 percent, Employment Development Department data shows.

Here’s another way Stanislaus is different from the rest of California: Stanislaus had 204,500 residents who worked last month, but there were only 163,300 jobs within the county. That 41,200-job gap meant Stanislaus residents commuted outside the county for work.

The opposite was true for San Francisco. Only 461,200 of that city’s residents worked during December, but San Francisco employers had more than 1 million workers.

That helps explain why San Francisco’s 4.8 percent unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the state, while Stanislaus’ 12.2 percent rate is among the highest.

Merced County’s is worse: 14.2 percent. That was up from 13.6 percent in November, but it is better than the 16.7 percent unemployment during December 2012.

San Joaquin County’s 12.1 percent unemployment rate was down from November’s 12.3 percent and the previous year’s 14.7 percent.

Stanislaus’ unemployment rate also was 14.7 percent a year ago, so progress has been made. There were 2,200 more Stanislaus residents working this December than the year before.

Credit farm jobs for increasing Stanislaus’ workforce.

“Farms added 700 jobs compared to last year, which is a good increase,” said Nati Martinez, an EDD labor market analyst.

Stanislaus’ transportation, warehousing and utilities sector also added 700 jobs. Amazon.com Inc.’s Patterson distribution center, which created several hundred jobs when it opened this fall, is one reason for that, Martinez said.

Eight hundred additional leisure and hospitality jobs also were added during the year, but Martinez said she didn’t know what exactly triggered that.

On the losing side of the ledger, there were 1,500 fewer construction jobs in Stanislaus this December than the year before. One thing is for sure: That loss wasn’t because it was too rainy to build things.

“Construction has been very slow in coming back,” Martinez said.

Only about 4,600 people worked construction jobs in Stanislaus last month. That’s less than one-third the number of construction workers employed during the 2005 peak of the county’s building boom.

While very few new homes have been built recently in Stanislaus, Martinez said there were some big commercial construction projects a year ago. That included Amazon’s Patterson facility and Blue Diamond Growers’ processing plant in Turlock, which opened in June.

“We just don’t have those kind (of building projects) happening right now,” Martinez said.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.

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