The loss of about 6,400 farm jobs pushed Kern County's unemployment rate up to a seasonally unadjusted 10.7 percent in December, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
The farm work layoffs belied improvement in the category of trade, transportation and utilities, which added 700 jobs in December. Professional and business services contributed another 500 positions, according to the state.
Coming off November's revised jobless rate of 10.4 percent and October's 10.3 percent, December's overall jobs decline represented the third consecutive month of gradually rising unemployment in the county.
Last month's performance nevertheless beat that of December 2012, when Kern's unemployment stood at 12.9 percent.
California added a modest 13,600 jobs in December, following a national pattern of less-than-robust growth in the last month of 2013.
But those gains were enough to push the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent, from 8.5 percent in the previous month, the EDD said.
The professional and business services sector gained the most jobs last month, adding 8,400 positions. In second was the leisure and hospitality industry, which has benefited from a resurgence of tourism in the state, with 7,800 jobs.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 5,800 jobs. Education and health services, bolstered by the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, expanded by 4,000 jobs.
Four sectors shed jobs in December, according to state data. The largest drop was in manufacturing, which lost 6,000 jobs. An additional 4,000 jobs were cut in the sector known as other services, which refers to jobs such as car technician and hair stylist that are not readily categorized into other sectors. The information industry shed 2,800 jobs.
Growth in California's payrolls held steady at 1.6 percent, adding a total of 235,700 jobs over the last year.