Fresno County’s unemployment rate in October continued its long improvement trend in year-over-year performance.
But the 9.2 percent jobless rate last month was up a full percentage point from September’s 8.2 percent as agriculture reduced its seasonal workforce by about 10,000 jobs.
October represented the 62nd consecutive month in which Fresno County’s unemployment rate was down compared to a year earlier, according to estimates released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. The unemployment rate in October 2015 in Fresno County was 9.3 percent.
“Last month was up from September, but the good news is this is the lowest October rate since October 2007, when it was 8.2 percent,” said Steven Gutierrez, a labor market analyst for the EDD in Fresno.
The rise in the jobless rate between September and October “is typical for this time of year as agricultural activity slows down considerably in the fall and winter,” Gutierrez added. “It wipes out gains in other sectors because it’s such a large drop and because agriculture is so dominant to the economy in this region.”
A similar pattern of a month-to-month increase and a year-over-year decline in the unemployment rate was reported in neighboring Kings, Madera and Merced counties. Tulare County’s unemployment rate of 10.8 percent was the same as it was a year ago, and up from 10.2 percent in September.
While small compared to the decline in farm jobs, a gain of about 700 jobs in the retail sector between September and October in Fresno County “appears to be a ramp-up in seasonal hiring for the holiday shopping season,” Gutierrez said. The estimated 39,400 retail workers in Fresno County represent a gain of 1,000 from October 2015.
We want to see continued increases in service industries like retail, because it reflects greater consumer confidence and more discretionary spending.
Steven Gutierrez, EDD labor market analyst in Fresno
“The National Retail Federation has forecast that this will be a positive holiday season,” he added. “We want to see continued increases in service industries like retail, because it reflects greater consumer confidence and more discretionary spending.”
The number of Fresno County residents with jobs was estimated at 407,200, up 1.5 percent from a year ago; the number of unemployed was 41,100, the same number as in October 2015. Overall, the available labor force was almost 6,000 greater than a year ago.
Both the unemployment rates and the actual job estimates are based on a federal survey of 5,500 California households, while the estimates of industry jobs is derived from a larger state survey of 58,000 employers. But 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 or calculated in the unemployment rates.
Statewide, California’s unemployment rate was estimated at 5.5 percent, unchanged from September – and unchanged from August and July, too. The EDD reported that while job growth has remained fairly strong, employers aren’t creating jobs quickly enough as more Californians stream into the labor market. About 90,000 state residents entered the labor market in October, according to the EDD.
Across the state, 389,500 Californians have found work in the past year, an increase of 2.4 percent. Unemployment has fallen four-tenths of a percentage point since October 2015.
The U.S. rate fell in October to 4.9 percent, down from 5.0 percent in September, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.