Business & Real Estate

Unemployment falls in Sacramento, statewide

Sacramento

Unemployment in Sacramento has fallen to its lowest level in 6 1/2 years, although job growth last month was tepid.

The region’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in September from 6.9 percent a month earlier, the state Employment Development Department said Friday. It was the lowest unemployment rate in Sacramento since May 2008, when joblessness stood at 6.3 percent.

Statewide unemployment dropped a tenth of a percentage point last month, to 7.3 percent.

In both cases, the payroll job figures weren’t encouraging. On the statewide level, the number of payroll jobs actually fell by 9,800, following a string of job gains in recent months. The Sacramento region reported a net gain of only 100 jobs.

Irena Asmundson, chief economist at the state Department of Finance, said the unusual movements in the statewide figures are a reflection of seasonal adjustments made by the statisticians. In August, the numbers showed the state adding more than 44,000 jobs, followed by a decline of nearly 10,000 in September. A more accurate picture, she said, is the state is gaining about 17,000 jobs a month.

The economy is performing “fairly well,” she said. “Very slow improvement, but it’s been steady.”

Economic consultant Stephen Levy, of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said one piece of good news was that 69,000 residents joined the labor force last month, a sign of improving confidence. “It is the first large gain in the state’s labor force in years,” he wrote in a note to reporters.

In Sacramento, the education sector added 3,900 jobs in September as schools went back into session. But the leisure and hospitality sector lost 3,700 jobs. Job losses in that industry are typical in September, although this was a greater decline than usual, according to EDD labor market consultant George Marley. The hiring in that sector last spring was unusually strong, too, he said.

In the past year, the region has added 18,300 jobs, a 2.1 percent growth rate. “We’re still trending in a positive direction,” Marley said.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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