Kern County's unemployment rate edged up to an unadjusted 12.5 percent in February -- its highest in almost a year -- as farming operations continued to lay off workers, the state reported Friday.
The county would have added a total of 700 jobs if not for the loss of 2,500 seasonal farming positions, according to data from the state Employment Development Department. This net loss translated to a slight increase in local joblessness from January's revised 12.3 percent.
Meanwhile, California's overall unemployment rate held steady in February at a seasonally unadjusted 8.5 percent, and the nation's remained unchanged at 7 percent, the EDD reported.
February hiring was strongest in the areas of services and government work. The biggest job losses, apart from farming, took place in the category of "health care and social assistance," which shed 500 positions, or 1.7 percent.
The EDD's "service providing" employment category saw a gain of 800 positions, or 0.4 percent. A separate classification called "professional & business services" added 400 jobs, or 1.5 percent.
Overall, government rolls in Kern County grew by 900, or 1.5 percent. Most of that increase -- 600 positions -- took place at the local level.
Notably, the job classification of "oil & gas extraction, well drilling" declined by 200 positions, or 1.7 percent.
Department store employment in the county also shrank by 200 jobs, or nearly 7 percent.
A year earlier, Kern's unemployment rate stood at an unadjusted 13.5 percent. California's was 9.7 percent, and 8.1 percent was the nation's.