Humboldt's job rate looking up: Recent data shows more jobs for county

Data released by the state's Employment Development Department on Friday showed Humboldt County's unemployment rate has dropped.

The county's preliminary rate dropped 2.3 percent since December 2012, bringing it to 7.5 percent, according to the department.

Dennis Mullins, a research analyst for the labor market information division of the Humboldt County EDD, said the rate change is based on the ratio of the estimated number of people unemployed.

"There are 1,500 less people unemployed this year, and the 800 jobs added accounts for part of the change," Mullins said. "We are a relatively young county, and there are a number of folks retiring or leaving and some choosing to leave their jobs, which opens the door for others looking for a job."

Steve Hackett, Humboldt State University's Economics Department chairman, said the unemployment rate has seen some modest declines.

"What we are seeing is a slow, modest recovery in the North Coast's economy so the unemployment rate is certainly improving," Hackett said. "We would like to see it closer to 5 to 5.5 percent though."

According to the data, 11 of the 12 monitored industries -- ranging from farming to information to private and educational health services -- saw either no change or the growth of 100 to 200 jobs, with the exception of professional and business services which saw a loss of 100 jobs.

Mullins said business services saw a loss because it included grant-subsidized hiring.

"For a period of time, we had funding to put folks to work through those temporary agencies, but it's disappearing now," he said.

In relation to the rest of the counties, Humboldt ranks 21 out of 58, which is better than average, Mullins said. The state's average unemployment rate comes in at 8.3, while the national average is 6.7 percent.

"When I look at the data for Humboldt, and see the lowest numbers since pre-recession and see that we have more jobs, I don't know how to express it in any other way than it being a positive thing," Mullins said.

HSU economics professor Erick Eschker agreed.

"Locally, Humboldt County is entering the winter months of traditionally higher employment. The seasonally adjusted employment level for the County was the same in December as in November, and slightly above the number from October. Slightly more people were employed in December 2013 compared to December 2012," Eschker said in an email. "Looking at the local unemployment rate, the non-seasonally adjusted rate in December 2013 was 7.5 percent, which is down considerably from December 2012."

The national projections are for a modest recovery in the economy, according to Hackett.

"The Bay Area is recovering quicker than the rest of the nation because of the tech boom," Hackett said. "We didn't really get too much of that here, but by not getting the boom, we are going to be able to avoid the bust."


Unemployment rates: Humboldt vs. surrounding counties

Del Norte: 10.7 percent

Siskiyou: 12.5 percent

Shasta: 9.8 percent

Trinity: 11.1 percent

Mendocino: 7.4 percent

Marin: 4.2 percent

Source: EDD

Humboldt's unemployment since the recession:

2009: 11.3 percent

2010: 11.4 percent

2011: 10.8 percent

2012: 9.8 percent

2013: 7.5 percent

Source: EDD

Melissa Simon can be reached at 441-0508 or