Stanislaus County's unemployment dipped another percentage point in May.
Figures released Friday by the Economic Development Department show the local rate dropped from 18.3 percent in April to 17.3 percent last month.
Bordering counties also saw declines: San Joaquin County dropped from 17.7 percent to 16.2 percent and Merced from 19.9 to 18.1.
Statewide, the figure dropped from 12.6 percent to 12.4 percent — adjusted for seasonal hiring patterns that occur every year. The county figures released are not seasonally adjusted, the EDD said.
Pedro Vargas, an EDD labor market consultant, said the local rates show cause for optimism the recession is easing.
He pointed out that in addition to the uptick in employment that comes in agricultural areas this time of year, Stanislaus County added a total of 600 jobs in construction, manufacturing and trade transportation.
"I was really pleasantly surprised with construction jobs," he said. "We're on a good trend, especially if we continue to (add construction jobs). Those have a multiplier effect with other people who service that particular industry."
An increase in government jobs, on the other hand, reflects hiring for the 2010 census; those won't have a lasting impact on the economy.
For the fifth straight month, the number of new jobs in California grew, with more than 28,000 nonfarm payroll positions added last month. Since Jan. 1, the state has added more than 84,000 new jobs.
Despite the positive news, California's jobless figure remains well above state unemployment numbers for the same time a year ago.
About 2.3 million Californians remained out of work last month — 212,000 more than in May 2009.
Meanwhile the national unemployment rate dipped from 9.9 percent in April to 9.7 percent last month. The unemployment rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Six states had increases and seven saw no change.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2343.