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Manteca jobless rate drops back to mid-2010 level

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POSTED March 30, 2013 2:31 a.m.

Manteca’s employment rate was at its highest level in February since mid-2007 as 87.2 percent of the 27,600 people in the labor pool had jobs.

Some 300 Manteca residents found employment in the first two months of the year to drop the jobless rate to 12.8 percent.

There are 700 plus more people in Manteca working today based on Employment Development Department data than there was in the spring of 2010. That’s when Manteca’s unemployment peaked at 15.8 percent for the highest level since the Great Depression.

State figures show that 24,100 Manteca residents had jobs in February. The gain of 700 jobs since 2010 represents a net number as the unemployment data is always in flux. That’s because people leave the workforce for various reasons. It also reflects the fact that people are constantly entering the hunt for a job just as jobs are eliminated and created monthly.

The state’s Employment Development Department reported on Friday California added 293,800 jobs in the past 12 months for a 2.1 percent gain. That outpaces the national job growth of 1.5 percent, keeping the state ahead for 2013 despite its slowly declining unemployment rate.

California’s jobless rate dipped to 9.6 percent last month after dropping below 10 percent late last year. The state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since December 2008 when the nation was gripped by the financial crisis.

San Joaquin County’s gain overall was even stronger going from 15.5 percent down to 14.7 percent in February. The biggest gains countywide were in the government sector with the creation of 500 jobs followed by health and education services at 400 jobs. The biggest losers countywide in February were trade, transportation and utilities as that sector shed 400 jobs as well as leisure and hospitality concerns that dropped 300 jobs. Lathrop unemployment in February was pegged at 11.9 percent and Ripon at 10.3 percent. Stockton has 17.7 percent of its workforce idle.

The state added the most jobs in February in areas that are traditionally strong in California, such as technology, tourism and construction. The jobs in construction increased by 5,700 during February.

“After a long recession and housing crisis in which the state lagged the nation in job growth, California is once again one of the nation’s job growth leaders,” wrote Stephen Levy, director and senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, in his assessment of the latest employment figures.

The number of people who are actively searching for work and considered unemployed in California fell below 1.8 million in February for the first time since January 2009. That’s down from 2 million last February.

According to preliminary unadjusted rates, Colusa County has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 25.9 percent. Marin County had the lowest unemployment rate in February at 5.4 percent.

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