County jobless rate is on the rise

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By ERIN MAYES

Most Tuolumne and Calaveras workers held on to their jobs last month.

According to the California Employment Development Department, the counties' preliminary jobless rates went up only marginally: Tuolumne County's rose from October's 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent. Calaveras County went up from 6.7 to 7.1.

No particular industry stood out as far as job losses, said Bunny Bentley, Mother Lode Labor Market Consultant for the EDD. She said it's likely the slight increases are "just a fluctuation."

Statewide, the jobless rate is down .3 percent to 6.4 percent in November. It has remained the same nationally 5.6 percent for both October and November.

The state's unemployment rate a year ago was 6.8 percent.

Most of the job losses in the state are because of the 9-week-old grocery worker strike and lockout in Southern California. The state lost 14,400 jobs last month, and 11,800 of them were from grocery stores.

''If you take out the grocery workers, you have basically a job loss of less than 3,000,'' said state EDD Director Michael Bernick. ''A lot of this follows the national picture. The economy is doing much better, but we're not seeing full impacts in terms of employment.''

The EDD's survey of households found the number of Californians who reported having a job last month was about 16.5 million, down 20,000 from the previous month, but up 212,000 from November 2002.

The survey also showed the number of California's jobless declined by 52,000 over last month to 1,132,000. That's down 65,000 compared to November 2002, the EDD said.

That decline was because of a drop of about 70,000 people from the labor force, Bernick said.

The data reported by employers reflect jobs that were eliminated but do not necessarily indicate that a proportionate number of people became unemployed as a result of the lost jobs.

This is the fourth month in a row with a national increase in jobs, but the third month California has lost jobs.

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