Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.7 percent in October, and unemployment also edged up in Merced (12.1 percent) and San Joaquin (11.6 percent) counties, just-released data shows.
Northern San Joaquin Valley employment opportunities traditionally decline each October as food processors wrap up their seasons.
But the employment news is worse than normal this year in Stanislaus: Employment Development Department figures show the county’s labor force is shrinking.
The government estimated there were 6,200 fewer Stanislaus residents willing to work this October than there were in October 2012.
So even though Stanislaus’ official unemployment rate fell from 13.6 percent last year to 11.7 percent this year, fewer people actually are working.
That’s not the case in Merced or San Joaquin counties or in California as a whole. More people are getting jobs elsewhere.
Stanislaus’ declining labor force also is odd because it conflicts with population growth estimates. So while EDD reports 6,200 fewer willing workers, the state’s Demographic Research Unit calculates Stanislaus’ population grew by 4,785 people from 2012 to 2013.
One explanation may be in who gets counted and who does not.
“Those who are discouraged and not looking for work are not included in the unemployment rate (or the labor force calculation),” said Nati Martinez, an EDD analyst.
Martinez said only adults who are working or actively looking for work are counted. So those who go to college instead of work or stay home as full-time parents or become disabled or retire are not counted, either.