Jobless rate dips slightly in Stanislaus, neighboring counties

Both the Central Valley and the state saw small dips in their jobless rates for April, halting many months of steady climbs in unemployment.Numbers released by the state today show Stanislaus County dropped from 17.5 to 16.8 percent, San Joaquin from 16.4 to 15.6 percent and Merced from 20.4 to 18.3 percent. The surrounding foothill counties all saw similar decreases.

The numbers correspond with a historical uptick in the month of April thanks to seasonal increases in farm, manufacturing and construction work.Liz Baker, a labor market analyst for the state Employment Development Department, said while she did not think the decrease in jobless rate was the start of a larger trend for the area, it was a positive sign in the midst of still near-record high unemployment.

“I think the one thing we can look at and see hope in is that there are jobs being created,” she said. “There may not be a lot of jobs being created, but there are several industries coming on: manufacturing, trade, professional business services and government. There are modest gains, yet those are more people in the labor market that weren’t before. That is the best ray of hope, to see people going back to work.”

California also saw its rate drop slightly from 11.2 in March to 11 percent in April.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement today saying the numbers were just the start of the state’s long climb back.

“While it is encouraging to see California’s unemployment rate level off this month, we’re still experiencing job loss and have a long way to go on the road to economic recovery,” he said. “As state and federal stimulus plans further take effect in California, I will continue to ensure we are doing everything possible to create and protect jobs – while also ensuring California’s unemployed workers have access to assistance and resources during these difficult times. My administration has no greater priority than continuing our aggressive actions to restore employment and normal growth in California.”