Fresno County’s unemployment rate keeps dropping, with August being the latest month in a five-year trend of improvement.
The rate fell to 8.7 percent in August – an improvement not only from July, but also down from a year ago, marking 60 consecutive months of year-to-year declines in the county.
Last month’s unemployment estimate was the lowest rate for August since 2007, when it was 7.3 percent and an economic recession was just starting to take hold in the Valley. The latest figures were released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
The decline in the jobless rate comes even as Fresno County experienced declines in the number of people working. Because there also were fewer people counted in the labor force – people who are employed, or looking for work – than in July, the mathematics still worked out to a lower unemployment rate overall.
People who aren’t looking for work, including students who returned to school, retirees or “discouraged workers – long-term unemployed who have effectively given up their search for jobs – are not counted as part of the available labor force.
Still, more people are working and fewer people were counted as unemployed than in August 2015.
August and September are historically the months with the lowest unemployment rates. If the trend holds true, next month we should see the rate go down a little more in September.
Steven Gutierrez, EDD labor market consultant in Fresno
“August and September are historically the months with the lowest unemployment rates,” said Steven Gutierrez, a labor market consultant for the EDD in Fresno. “If the trend holds true, next month we should see the rate go down a little more in September.”
In Fresno County, several industry sectors reported year-over-year increases in the number of jobs. Local government added about 4,000 jobs compared with August 2015. Private-sector education and health services had about 1,800 more jobs than a year ago, and retail and manufacturing each reported gains of 800 jobs over the course of the year. About 600 additional jobs came in farm employment.
“For manufacturing, this month extended a 33-month streak of year-over-year gains,” Gutierrez said, adding that the entire increase was attributable to job growth in food manufacturing and representing total year-over-year gains of 7,300 jobs so far in 2016.
The month-to-month picture, however, showed several sectors trimming jobs between July and August. Government agencies across the federal, state and local levels reported total losses of 2,000 jobs, some of which were attributable to schools being out for the summer, according to EDD. But farm employment was stable, and manufacturing added 700 jobs between July and August.
Unemployment rates are based on a federal survey of households, while the industry employment figures are estimated from a larger survey of employers across the state.
Statewide, California added 61,300 jobs in August, while employers nationwide reported gains of 151,000 for the month. California’s unemployment rate was estimated at 6 percent for August, up from 5.5 percent in July. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the national rate at 4.9 percent, unchanged from July.
August unemployment rates in Fresno County, 2000 to 2016:
Source: California Employment Development Department