Stanislaus County's unemployment rate leveled out in February, after recording sharp jumps in the preceding months that propelled the rate into double digits.
The county's jobless rate was 10.8 percent last month, just slightly higher than the revised rate of 10.7 for January, according to state Employment Development Department figures released Friday.
The unemployment rate had been climbing by roughly 1 percentage point a month since November, with especially high job losses in construction and other industries tied to the housing market.
January marked the first time the county had seen double-digit unemployment in three years.
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"We did see some huge spikes, and maybe we are coming to a point that's stable. We have to see what happens in the spring, when agriculture and manufacturing typically pick up," said Liz Baker, EDD labor market analyst.
February recorded "some gains and some modest declines" in jobs compared with the previous month, she said.
Stanislaus County employers added about 1,100 jobs last month. However, retailers shed about 400 jobs as the holiday season wrapped up, and the leisure and hospitality sector was down about 100 jobs.
Statewide, employers added 25,800 nonfarm payroll jobs in February. The unemployment rate in the state was 5.7 percent in February, down from 5.9 percent in January. The rate in February 2007 was 5.0 percent.
Gov. Schwarzenegger released a statement saying he was "encouraged" by the figures.
"While it is clear that California, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing an economic slowdown, the increase in jobs here in February is encouraging," he said. "Eight out of 11 jobs sectors showed growth last month. For those jobs sectors that continue to have difficulty -- housing, construction, banking -- we will continue to take action to spur job growth."
San Joaquin County's unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent in January to 9.9 percent last month. That's a typical trend for that county in February, Baker said.
The foothill counties of Tuolumne, Calaveras and Mariposa also saw small decreases in unemployment compared with the previous month. However, all were about a percentage point higher than the unemployment estimates from a year ago.
The EDD is encouraging people to file for unemployment insurance claims at its Web site, www.edd.ca.gov.
Click on "EApply4UI" and follow the instructions to file a claim.
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-4574.