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Napa County’s unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent in August, from 9.2 percent in July, according to numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department (EDD). A year ago, Napa County’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent.

The new ranking puts Napa County in a three-way tie with San Francisco and Santa Barbara counties for the third-best jobless rate for the month. Marin County ranks first and San Mateo County second.

Napa’s rate compares with a seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate of 12.1 percent for California.

Napa County industries that saw more than a 10 percent increase in employment year-over-year included accommodation and food services, educational services and information.

Leisure and hospitality hiring rose 6.3 percent year-over-year. At the same time, arts, entertainment and recreation employment declined 12.5 year-over-year, and city employment declined 10 percent year-over-year.

With much of the local economy tied to wine and tourism, Napa employment will always be seasonal, Robert Eyler, director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University, said.

Ups and downs in unemployment are to be expected. Beginning this fall, the jobless rate will likely rise, he said. “November, December, January and February are typically tough months in Napa County.”

A 26 percent year-over-year dip in employment in the durable manufactured goods category could be wine industry related, Eyler said.

Those companies could include businesses such as a bottle manufacturer, steel tank manufacturer or a box company, he said.

“As firms go into harvest they are no longer buying certain durable goods that were already manufactured for harvest,” and the employees are laid off.

Overall, “we should expect some continued recovery in the labor markets. All signs point to that,” Eyler said.

Jim Mahoney with Bolt Staffing in American Canyon said demand for hiring was stronger over the summer, but these days “we’re not seeing job orders.”

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“People are being very cautious about hiring,” he said.

While some businesses might begin to consider temporary staffing as the holiday season approaches, “jobs like that don’t typically use a staffing firm” like his company, he said.

“The bottom line is we’re not seeing anything wonderful in terms of employment,” Mahoney said. Whether 8.8 percent or 9.2 percent unemployment, “it still stinks,” he said.

The EDD also released new data about recent job ads for Napa County. According to the report, retail salespersons, registered nurses, retail supervisors, customer service reps, wait staff and physical therapists were among the occupations with the most job ads for the month. 

In Napa County, Napa had the most job ads with 1,254, St. Helena had 227 followed by American Canyon with 83 job ads, according to the EDD.

Employers with the most job ads included St. Helena Hospital, Treasury Wine Estates, Kaiser, Napa Valley Unified, Auberge du Soleil, Calistoga Ranch, Diageo, Trinchero Family Estates and Adecco.


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