Jobless rate puts county among its best

July 21, 2003 12:00 am

By LIZ HARRELSON

While good jobs might be few and far between, recent employment statistics show Tuolumne County has more than most.

With the county's unemployment at 6.1 percent, it ranks 19th in the state — lower than the rate of neighboring Calaveras County, and lower than state and national averages, according to Employment Development Department statistics.

Calaveras ranked 33rd in the state with an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

While employment rates in some job sectors remained static, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector in Tuolumne County has increased employment by 44 percent since last year.

In Calaveras County, employment in this same area was down 8.8 percent for the year, but rose from 280 to 310 jobs — a 10.7 percent increase in June.

Gloria Di Bartels, an artist who recently painted a mural at Copperopolis Elementary School, suggested that consumers these days tend to spend their money on soothing, comforting items.

"They want something more personal," said Bartels, of Modesto. She has been a painter for 25 years. "That's why I think the art industry flourishes at this time."

Still, the art-oriented town of Murphys topped the jobless list of Calaveras county towns with a 9.9 percent unemployment rate.

Conversely, Angels Camp had a low of 7.1 percent.

For people seeking employment, lower-paying, less-popular jobs, such as fast food and retail sales, have the most openings right now, said Patti Taylor-Welch of MDC Resources, a Sonora-based staffing company.

"Labor — the unskilled labor — that's where the shortage is," she said.

Originally from Santa Clara, Taylor-Welch spent 12 years as a recruiter in the electronic semi-conductor industry.

Because most of the Santa Clara jobs she used to fill have gone overseas, she decided to diversify.

Now she runs MDC Resources and All-Animal Home Care, which supplies pet-sitting services for local residents.

"I'm crossing my fingers," Taylor-Welch said as to the success of her businesses. "I'd much rather deal with the local economy rather than an industry 130 miles away."