Monday, May 22, 2006

Unemployment Down Again in Region

Unemployment Down Again in Region
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - Unemployment rates in the Bay Area and Solano County have steadily improved during the last few years.

In Solano County the unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent in April, down from a two-year high of about 6.5 percent in July 2004, according to the California Employment Development Department.

Another sign of economic strength came from a survey released this week by the Bay Area Council. It revealed more companies are planning to hire workers than any other time since 2001 - when the dot-com era went bust.

"This doesn't surprise me," said Robert Bloom, executive director of the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County. "Generally, I'm hearing companies are hiring. Solano is healthy. It's growing."

But echoing the concerns of the 512 corporate executives polled in the survey, Bloom said some industries are struggling to find enough employees.

"We're getting close to full employment," Bloom said. "(Employers) are anxious to find any suitable workers and pull them in for an interview."

Bloom said construction companies and hospitals are particularly starved for workers.

The survey found 42 percent of executives report it is more challenging finding qualified candidates than 12 months ago. Only five percent said it was easier.

About 43 percent of Bay Area executives polled said they planned on hiring new staff in the next six months. Only 8 percent planned layoffs.

Business confidence was up a little bit, from 59 points last year to 60 this spring, according to the survey.

About 86 percent of executives surveyed said they expect the economy to be better or the same six months from now.

Nathan Halverson can be reached at 425-4646 X267 or

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