The Merced County unemployment rate in March was 12.9 percent, the lowest it’s been this time of year since 2007, according to numbers released Friday by the Employment Development Department.
The jobless rate in March was three percentage points lower than the same time last year, when it was 15.9 percent.
“That is a huge decline from last year,” said George Marley, a labor market analyst with EDD.
The only industry to have fewer jobs in March compared with last year was professional business services, which dipped by 100 jobs. The county has added 3,600 jobs since last March, 2,500 of them in the manufacturing industry.
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There were also about 100 more people participating in the labor market in March at 115,400 than in the same month in 2014. At 11,100 jobs, Marley said, Merced County’s manufacturing industry has the most jobs it’s had since 1990.
Mark Hendrickson, Merced County director of community and economic development, said manufacturing companies continue to show interest in the county. He said companies already in the county are expanding.
“Most certainly, doing business in Merced County is becoming easier,” he said.
The county and its six cities continue to work together in an attempt to whittle the jobless rate down further. Hendrickson said the rate in March is a sign the county is moving in the right direction.
California’s jobless rate fell for the third straight month this year, to 6.5 percent, as the state continues to add jobs, the state EDD reported.
California added 39,800 jobs during March for a gain of nearly 1.9 million jobs since the recovery began in 2010, the agency said. The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in May 2008.
The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent.
California saw two-tenths of a percentage point drop in its unemployment rate from February as a result of payroll gains. A survey of California businesses found the state had 15.9 million non-farm jobs in March. It marks a 3.1 percent increase, or a gain of roughly 482,000 jobs, since March of last year.
According to the agency, seven categories added jobs over the month: construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; educational and health services; other services; and government.
Professional and business services posted the largest increase of 16,900 jobs. “That’s good, because a lot of those jobs are the highest-paying jobs,” EDD spokesman Kevin Callori said.
The overall number of people unemployed was down in March and stands at 1.2 million.
The state reported that there were 464,530 people receiving unemployment benefits during March, an uptick from 426,874 in February but lower than 510,919 during March of last year.