Unemployment rates throughout the central San Joaquin Valley went up in some counties and down in others between July and August, according to figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.
In Fresno County, August was the first month since September 2011 in which the unemployment rate was higher than it was 12 months earlier, after 70 months of year-over-year decreases. The difference between August 2016 and August 2017 was slight – only one-tenth of a percentage point – but it’s too soon to tell whether the year-over-year uptick is a hiccup in the long-term trend or signals a reversal of what is still considered a relatively fragile economic recovery in the Valley.
August was the fifth straight month in which Fresno County’s unemployment rate was below 9 percent. Still, rates in Fresno County and its neighboring Valley counties remain well above both the state and national averages. California’s rate was reported at 5.4 percent for August, while the national rate was estimated at 4.5 percent.
Among the sectors that saw the biggest changes in employment since August 2016 in Fresno County were:
▪ Farming, in which the number of filled jobs fell 4.9 percent, from 57,400 last year to 54,600 last month.
▪ Food manufacturing, with jobs falling 14.1 percent, from 14,900 last year to 12,800 last month.
▪ Private-sector educational services, dropping 15.4 percent from 3,900 jobs last year to 3,300 in August 2017.
Other sectors registered gains in jobs over the past 12 months, including:
▪ Construction, with a gain of 7.4 percent or 1,200 positions to 17,500 jobs in Fresno County.
▪ Private-sector health and social assistance, growing by 4.5 percent or 2,700 jobs to a total of 63,200 positions.
▪ Local government, growing by 4.2 percent or 1,900 positions to 47,200 jobs. Local government includes county and city agencies, special districts and local school districts.