Valley jobless numbers climb

Central San Joaquin Valley unemployment rates continued to rise into the double-digits in March, as the region lost construction and financial services jobs amidst an housing market slump and weakening economy.

Fresno County’s unemployment rate rose to 11.1% in March, up from 10.6% in February and 9.1% in March 2007, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

While the county added 6,300 new jobs, up 1.9%, between March 2007 and last month, that wasn’t enough to keep up with the rising ranks of the unemployed, which grew 27.5% to 48,200 from 37,800 over the same time.

And the loss of 2,100 construction jobs and 600 finance jobs over that time pointed to continuing weakness in the housing market and related financial services, even as jobs grew in retail trade, transportation, utilities, education, health services and government.

Tulare, Kings, Merced and Madera counties also saw unemployment rates rise to double-digit percentages in March, as new jobs failed to keep pace with growing numbers of unemployed.

The state as a whole also saw unemployment rise to 6.2% in March, up from 5% in March 2007, as nonfarm employment actually fell by 12,000 jobs, or 0.1%, over that time. Construction employment, which lost 87, 900 jobs, led the statewide declines.