FAIRFIELD — Solano County saw its unemployment rate dramatically drop in April, from a revised 8 percent the previous month to 7 percent, the lowest rate since June 2008.
It could be the sign of a long-awaited, game-changing turnaround kicking in. Or it could be a statistical blip, given that one reason for the large drop is that there are fewer people in the labor force.
“Just looking at the month-over really doesn’t show you what the trend is,” said Linda Wong, a labor market consultant with the state Employment Development Department, on Friday.
The long-term trend is positive, if not so dramatic. The county’s unemployment rate has gone down and up since hitting a high of 12.4 percent in January 2011, but overall has headed downward.
Wong noted that the unemployment rate typically goes down at this time of year, just not as much as 1 percent.
But the data also shows a reason for caution. The county’s labor force shrunk from 218,100 in March to 215,000 in April and the number of people employed also shrunk, from 200,700 to 200,000. The unemployment rate fell because the labor force dip was the greater of the two.
California as a whole also saw an April unemployment drop, from a seasonally unadjusted 8.4 percent in March to 7.3 percent in April. The state’s seasonally adjusted rate – unavailable for Solano County but typically used for the state and national figures – showed a less-dramatic drop, from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
Solano County still had the highest unemployment rate among the nine Bay Area counties for April. But the competition was stiff. Marin County had the lowest rate in the state at 3.9 percent.
Other Bay Area counties also had among the state’s lowest rates, with San Mateo County at 4.2 percent, San Francisco County at 4.4 percent, Napa County at 5 percent, Sonoma and Santa Clara counties at 5.3 percent, Alameda County at 5.7 percent and Contra Costa County at 6.1 percent.
Solano County had the 18th lowest unemployment rate among California’s 58 counties. The highest rate was Imperial County at 21.6 percent.
Among Solano County cities, Benicia had a rate of 4.3 percent, Rio Vista and Vacaville 5.3 percent, Dixon 5.6 percent, Suisun City 7.2 percent, Fairfield 7.7 percent and Vallejo 8.7 percent.
Solano County from March to April added 500 jobs, for a total of 127,900. It added 2,100 jobs over the past year.
The trade, transportation and utilities category added 1,300 jobs over the past year, led by 900 jobs in retail. This marked the 26th consecutive month of year-over increases for this category, Wong said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.