The unemployment rate for August in Merced County dropped 1.3 percentage points to 17.4 percent in August.
Despite the drop, the county remains in the top five of counties with the highest unemployment rate.
Merced County has the third-highest unemployment rate in California. It's surpassed only by Yuba County (18.9 percent) and Imperial County (30.4 percent), according to data released this week from the the Employment Development Department(EDD).
Last year at this same time, the unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent.
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The biggest growth in jobs last month was in government, according to Steven Gutierrez, spokesman for the Labor Market Information Division of the EDD.
Unfortunately, the majority of the 2,200 people employed in government positions aren't from any newly created jobs. Those numbers come from teachers, school administrators and school faculty members who headed back to the classroom last month, Gutierrez said.
Most of Merced's K-12 schools opened in mid-August and Merced College and UC Merced followed shortly after.
The county added 500 new farming jobs and 100 additional jobs in manufacturing for a growth of 2,900. The total number of jobs in all industries in August was 68,200.
Last month, the total number of jobs was 65,300. Last August, the number was 68,600 -- 400 fewer jobs than last month.
The number of people eligible to work in Merced County is 109,100. Out of that total, 90,100 were employed in August and 18,900 people were unemployed, according to EDD data.
Zooming into Merced County's city's and towns, South Dos Palos posted the highest unemployment rate at 40 percent. Planada followed closely behind at 37.9 percent.
Those towns have had the highest unemployment rate in the county for a number of months.
Hilmar has the lowest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent.
Merced city's jobless rate is 17.2 percent.
The local unemployment rate soars above the statewide rate of 12.4 percent and the national rate of 9.5 percent.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.