By ERIN MAYES
Unemployment rates in the area went down but not much according to a report from the Employment Development Department.
The report, issued last week, showed Tuolumne County had a 7.6 percent unemployment rate last month, while Calaveras County had a 9 percent rate.
Those numbers are down from 7.8 percent and 9.4 percent in February, respectively.
In March 2002, Tuolumne County's unemployment rate was about the same 7.5 percent. However, Calaveras County's numbers are up. At this time last year, Calaveras County's rate was 7.5 percent.
Both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties have a higher number of unemployed people, compared with the state, which has an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent as of March.
The statewide number is also down slightly from 7 percent in February, but it is still higher than the national unemployment rate, which is 6.2 percent, down from 6.4 percent in February.
If last year's statistics are any indication, the unemployment rates in the area should continue to drop.
The rate in Calaveras County fell from 7.5 percent in March 2002 to 7.1 percent in April 2002. Tuolumne County's March 2002 rate of 7.5 percent went down almost an entire point to 6.8 percent in April 2002.
Nearby Amador and Mariposa counties ranked better than Tuolumne and Calaveras, both with a 6.8 percent jobless rate. Those are each down from 7 percent in February, although the rate in Amador is higher than it was at the same time last year. The county had a 4.8 percent jobless rate in March 2002. Mariposa County showed a slight improvement from last year's March rate of 7.3 percent.
Tuolumne County's farm industry showed a 14.3 percent gain, with about 40 more people employed in that field compared with February. The next largest gain was of about 20 workers in the wood-product manufacturing industry.
Calaveras County showed minor gains of 10 people in the retail industry, 10 employed by the federal government and 10 in the area of leisure and hospitality.