Monday, May 19, 2008

Solano's jobs follow U.S. trend

Solano's jobs follow U.S. trend
By Melissa Murphy
Article Launched: 05/17/2008

Solano County's unemployment rate is following a national trend - although the rate decreased in April, when compared to March, it is still well above last year's averages.

The unemployment rate in Solano County was 6.0 percent in April this year, down from 6.4 percent in March, according to numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

However April's rate was up from last year's estimate of 4.9 percent.

And the number of jobs created and lost is also signficant. April of 2007 saw 129,300 jobs in Solano County. That dropped to 127,200 jobs in April 2008 - a loss of 2,100 jobs.

"It isn't great, but compared to others, Solano County is doing pretty good on an economic standpoint," said Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

Most of the 2,100 jobs lost since last year were in the construction industry (1,800), a reflection of the slumping housing market.

"We're suffering on a national basis," he said. "We're a more diversified county, but we're still in between the residential bust," Ammann said.

Other counties are seeing unemployment rates as low as 3.9 percent - in Marin County - while others are on the higher end of the spectrum, such as Imperial County, which has an 18.4 percent unemployment rate.

In Solano County, Ammann said that new, good-paying jobs are on the horizon.

Although housing development has taken a big hit this year, Ammann said other construction jobs will replace those.

For instance, Solano County has $600 million for improvements, which includes highways. Those construction jobs, Ammann explained, will increase through the next four to five years.
"The unemployment numbers could be kind of shocking," he said. "But they'll be picked up by the demand of other good-paying jobs."

That trend has just started to grow, Amman added, noting that in April, 100 construction jobs were added in Solano County.

The Workforce Investment Board also has applied for a grant to help those housing construction workers with the transition to other construction jobs.

Statewide, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.2 percent in April. Basic job losses in the construction and banking sectors were offset by strength in other pockets of the economy, the the EDD said Friday.

While the construction industry registered the biggest annual decline in jobs, the education and health services sector posed the largest job gains, followed by natural resources and mining, and government.

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