published on January 19, 2018 - 10:29 AM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

Fresno County’s average unemployment rate for 2017 was 8.6 percent, marking only the fourth time in 27 years the annual jobless rate was below 10 percent.

Last year’s unemployment rate for Fresno County was nearly half of what it was at the height of the recession — it topped out at 16.7 percent in 2010.

That’s the latest data from the state Employment Development Department (EDD), which also reported 10-year-low unemployment rates for the rest of the Central Valley.

Though wages may not be rising as fast as people might want, and some may still be working two part time jobs to replace the single job they had before the recession, the unemployment numbers are encouraging, said Steven Gutierrez, a labor market consultant for the EDD in Fresno.

Fresno County’s average annual jobless rate has shed 1-2 percentage points every year since 2011, when it fell to 16.5 percent. The annual rate in 2016 was 9.4 percent.

The latest Fresno County data closed out 2017 with a December unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, marking the ninth consecutive month of single digits dating back to April.

Looking at December compared to the same month in 2016, farms added an additional 800 jobs, but most of the growth was in nonfarm industries, which added 9,600 jobs. The educational and health services sector led annual growth with 2,400 new positions, followed by trade, transportation and utilities with 1,800 jobs and leisure and hospitality with 1,700 jobs.

Tulare County’s annual average unemployment rate for 2017 was 10.4 percent. The county’s rate topped out at 17.2 percent in 2010.

Tulare County’s December unemployment rate was 10.1 percent, below 11.4 percent the year prior. Farms added 200 more jobs on an annual basis, while nonfarm industries added 1,200, led by government and mining, logging and construction with 500 each.

Madera County had the lowest annual unemployment rate in the Central Valley at 8 percent. The rate topped out at 16.6 percent in 2010.

The December unemployment rate in Madera was 7.5 percent, below 9.3 percent a year ago. Farms added 700 jobs in the year, while nonfarm industries added 1,500 jobs, led by government with 400 jobs and educational and health services and mining, logging and construction adding 300 each.

The Kings County average annual unemployment rate was 9.1 percent last year. It topped out at 16.1 percent in 2010.

The December rate was 8.4 percent, below 10.2 percent the year prior. Farms added 300 jobs on an annual basis, while nonfarm industries added 900 jobs.

Statewide, the jobless rate hit a new record low of 4.3 percent in December — the lowest for the month since 1976.

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