Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012-01-21 "Napa unemployment inches up" by JENNIFER HUFFMAN from "Napa Valley Register"
Napa County’s unemployment rate inched up in December, hitting 9 percent compared to a revised 8.7 percent in November, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
A year ago, the estimated Napa County jobless rate was 10.7 percent, officials said.
December’s unadjusted unemployment rate for California was 10.9 percent. Nationally, the rate was 8.3 percent.
As is typical with Napa’s tourism-based economy, the monthly rise is due in part to a drop in farm and leisure and hospitality jobs, EDD said.
Farm employment declined by 500 jobs from November to December, according to department figures.  Leisure and hospitality employment declined by 100 jobs.
However, when comparing December 2010 to December 2011, information job employment rose from 600 to 700 jobs and educational and health services employment rose from 8,100 to 8,600 jobs.
Jim Mahoney of Bolt Staffing in American Canyon said those numbers match what he’s been seeing at his business. Normally, the industry braces for a seasonal decrease in job orders this time of year, but “We had a pleasant surprise toward the end of the year,” Mahoney said. “We got orders we didn’t expect. It wasn’t any groundswell but it was sure welcome.”
Mahoney said he’s gotten recent job orders for an export assistant for a beverage business, warehouse labor and jobs in the capsule industry. The capsule industry jobs were for a company that was expanding, he said. “These were new jobs, not replacement jobs.”
Looking ahead, Mahoney said he’s “guardedly optimistic.” Some employers who have been deferring work in the past year are trying to catch up on certain projects, he said. One distributor of industrial goods in Napa hired a temp to catch up on office and administrative work.
“He would like to hire this person, but he’s got to get a better feel for where his business is going,” Mahoney said. “It’s still iffy. He’s got lots of promising prospects but they don’t pay the bills. You have to have the orders.”

December 2011 Unemployment rates
• Napa County — 9 percent
• Marin County — 6.5 percent
• Solano County — 10.5 percent
• Sonoma County — 8.9 percent
• Lake County — 17.1 percent

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