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Unemployment jumps in Stanislaus County

MODESTO - Unemployment rates in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties swelled above last year’s averages, the result of a shaky economy and deepening housing crisis.

All three counties gained at least a percentage point from the previous year, with Stanislaus County recording the biggest jump. The county went from an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent in September 2006 to 8 percent last month, according to state Employment Development figures released Friday.

“It is indicative of the economy shifting,” said Liz Baker, EDD labor market analyst for Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. The increase from last year is a “vast difference” that stands out in the data, she said.

“We are seeing effects on the ability to find jobs. It is definitely a change. It is getting tougher as the market gets tighter. More people are vying for jobs. It is an employer’s market; they have the pick at this point,” Baker said.

Manufacturing jobs were down 1,500 last month from August, most of which are are seasonal job cuts as canneries wrap up the harvest, Baker said.

The most recent round of layoffs at the Hershey Co. plant in Oakdale — 294 employees were laid off Oct. 1 — were not included. They likely will show up next month, Baker said.

California’s economy added a modest 9,300 payroll jobs last month, with the information sector generating the biggest gains and construction posting the most losses, the state reported.