Unemployment in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties rose slightly last month, remaining higher than statewide averages but showing signs of improvement over the past year.
Tuolumne County's jobless rate was 11.2 percent in December, up 0.5 percent from the 10.7 percent rate in November, but down 1.2 percent from December 2011.
Calaveras County's 12-percent rate in December was the same as the October rate of 12 percent after a slight dip to 11.8 percent in November. However, Calaveras also showed signs of improvement over the past year. The unemployment rate in December 2011 was 12.4 percent.
However, the lower unemployment rates in both counties since 2011 may reflect a shrinking workforce rather than an increase in jobs.
The civilian workforce (those available to work) in both counties shrunk during the past year. Tuolumne County lost 400 workers, down from 25,840 in December 2011 to 25,440 in December 2012. In Calaveras County, the workforce went down by 450, from 19,750 in December 2011 to 19,300 in December 2012.
The EDD said Tuolumne County's workforce was 1.5 percent smaller in December 2012 than a year earlier, and the workforce in Calaveras County shrunk by 2.3 percent in the same time period.
In Tuolumne County, construction jobs went up 6 percent over the past year, from 500 jobs in December 2012 to 530 jobs in December 2012. The number of mining and logging jobs remained flat at 160.
Mining, logging and construction were lumped into one category in Calaveras County, and the number of jobs was the same in December 2011 and 2012 - 590.
Federal jobs rose 10.8 percent in Tuolumne County, from 370 to 410. In Calaveras County, the number of federal jobs went from 120 to 110, a decrease of 8.3 percent.
The figures are not seasonally adjusted. The statewide unemployment rate in December was 9.7 percent, down from 9.8 percent in December 2011, showing continued improvement. Statewide, the unemployment rate was in the single digits for two months in a row after being in double digits since the recession began in 2007.
Of California's 58 counties, Marin had the lowest unemployment rate - 5.5-percent. Imperial County was the worst with 25.5 percent.
Tuolumne County's 11.2 percent placed it in 29th place statewide, and Calaveras County's 12 percent put it in 33rd place.