Unemployment rates fell a bit in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties in February, staying lower than a year ago and inching closer to the state average.
The unemployment rate was 11.1 percent in Tuolumne County, down from 12 percent in January and 13.2 percent in February 2012.
In Calaveras County, the unemployment rate was 12.5 percent, down from 13.2 percent in January and 14.8 percent in February 2012.
The unemployment rate statewide was 9.6 percent in February, down from 9.8 percent in January and 10.8 in February 2012.
The lower unemployment figures could represent a shrinking workforce as well as an increase in jobs, but Larry Cope, executive director of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Agency, thinks it is a positive sign.
"I tend to think more in trends," he said, "and it looks better than it did this month a year ago or two years ago. We still have a way to go to get unemployment back to where it was in 2005 or 2006, but I think there are positive signs that our economy is slowly healing."
Tuolumne County had a total civilian workforce of 25,570 in February, up from 25,450 in January, but down from 25,970 in February 2012. The total number of unemployed in the county was 2,850 in February, compared with 3,440 in February 2012.
The most jobs - 14,580 - were in the service category, including trades, transportation and utilities, leisure and hospitality, business and professional and others. Another 5,150 were employed by the government, and 1,380 were employed producing goods of one kind or another.
In Calaveras County, the workforce was 18,900 in February, down from 18,970 in January and 19,210 in February 2012. The total number of unemployed in the county was 2,360 in February, compared to 2,830 in February 2012.
The most jobs - 6,370 - were service oriented, 2,390 were employed by the government, and 790 were producing goods.
Statewide, the labor force numbered 18,642.500 in February, an increase of 48,000 from January and 191,500 from February 2012.