Merced County recorded the lowest unemployment rate (10.2 percent) on record for April, according to labor marker analysts.
Down from last year’s 11.3 percent, April’s jobless rate beat out the previous low from 2000, according to the state Employment Development Department. The records go back to 1990, according to Steven Gutierrez, an analyst with EDD.
More than 11,000 people were out of work in April, according to the EDD report. This time of year, many farms are transitioning into the harvesting season.
“We normally see an uptick (in jobs),” Gutierrez said. “That happens not only in Merced County but all of the Valley.”
There were 1,300 more farms jobs in April than in the previous month.
Compared to last April, three sectors added 300 jobs each: “mining, logging and construction,” “leisure and hospitality,” and “educational and health services.”
Manufacturing, which is heavily linked to farm work, added 200 jobs.
10.2 percentMerced County’s jobless rate in April
Each of the “financial activities,” “professional and business services,” and “trade, transportation and utilities” sectors lost 100 jobs since last April.
California’s unemployment rate fell to a near-record low of 4.8 percent last month, but experts cautioned that the Golden State’s economy might be slowing down.
April’s jobless rate was the lowest in 16 years and only a tenth of a percentage point higher than the all-time low from records dating to 1976, according to statistics released Friday by EDD.
Officials said the all-time low statewide jobless rate was 4.7 percent in November-December 2000. In March the state’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, and in April 2016 it was 5.5 percent.
EDD said the state has gained nearly 2.5 million jobs since economic expansion began in February 2010.
Michael Bernick, a labor lawyer in San Francisco and a former EDD director, characterized Friday’s data as a continuation of a remarkable run.
We normally see an uptick (in jobs). That happens not only in Merced County but all of the Valley.
Steven Gutierrez, an analyst with EDD, on April
“Since early 2010, we’ve had 85 months of employment expansion. This is one of the longest employment expansions in the post-World War II period,” he said.
However, Bernick zeroed in on the jobs lost between March and April as a possible sign of a slowing economy.
Sung Won Sohn, a professor of economics at California State University, Channel Islands, also noted the prolonged period of job growth but warned that it was not wise to “put so much attention on the jobless rate alone.”
The nationally known economist explained that job growth in and around Silicon Valley has been slowing of late, and that region has helped boost statewide numbers for more than a year.
“Job expansion is happening at a slower rate there,” he said. “I guess what I’m saying is it’s important to look at the overall picture rather than focus on a specific (jobless) number.”
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.