Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Solano loses jobs but fewer than last year with most of the jobs lost from December to January were due to seasonality

Monday, Mar 07, 2005 - 11:09:39 pm PST

Solano loses jobs but fewer than last year

By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD - Retailers trimmed their payrolls after the holiday season, which pushed unemployment higher and led to a loss of 3,400 jobs in Solano County, according to a recent state jobs report.

In its monthly study, the state Employment Development Department found that most of the jobs lost from December to January were due to seasonality. The biggest losers during that time were retail trade, which lost 1,000 jobs, construction, which lost 900 jobs, and education, down another 900 jobs.

The region also lost 100 farm jobs.

"The big loss was in retail trade," said Cynthia Solorio, an state labor market analyst. "The reason is that we're coming off the holiday season and retailers are laying off their seasonal help."

Still, financial and professional business sectors, typically not seasonal, combined for a loss of 400 jobs during the month. So not all of the downturn could be attributed to seasonality.

But the bigger picture, and a healthier one, Solorio said, was that the county's employers added 1,900 jobs since January 2004, most of them in the construction industry. Those year-over-year figures tell a more comprehensive story than the monthly changes, she said.

"In both respects, jobs and unemployment rate, Solano County did better," she said.

Unemployment shot up in January but remained lower than the same time last year. The unadjusted jobless rate was 6.1 percent, up from 5.3 percent in December but down from 6.7 percent last year.

The unemployment rate reflects only individuals actively seeking work who have applied for financial assistance, so it's often considered a less-reliable indicator of the jobs market than other, more specific figures.

January's jobs report was several weeks late as state analysts waited for the federal government to reconcile its year-end data and other statewide changes, Solorio said.

One of the California changes that caused the holdup was that some multi-county Metropolitan Statistical Areas were split into single-county MSAs for greater precision when compiling jobs data. This was done for Solano and Napa counties, which changed from a single grouping that included Vallejo, Fairfield and Napa to two separate county areas.

So, in effect, Solano County was separated from Napa County for the first time.

"You'll be able to see trends faster," Solorio said.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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