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Kern County's December unemployment increase was was driven mainly by 8,700 farmworker layoffs.

AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka

Kern County's unemployment rate jumped a full percentage point to 10.2 percent between November and December, according to seasonally unadjusted data the state released Friday.

The change was driven mainly by 8,700 farmworker layoffs, a nearly 14 percent month-to-month decline that brought local agricultural employment down to about half a percent below its level a year earlier.

Several other labor categories posted growth in December, according to the report by California’s Employment Development Department. More classifications expanded than shrank, continuing Kern’s recent trend of broad gains despite painful losses in local oil fields.

California’s jobless rate, also reported on a seasonally unadjusted basis, came in at 5.8 percent in December, while the national rate was estimated at 4.8 percent.

In Kern, retailers added 1,000 local positions, or 2.9 percent, during the holiday season and construction expanded by 200 jobs (1.1 percent). Employment in professional and technical fields increased by 200 jobs (1.8 percent).

On the other hand, accommodation and food service businesses in the county shed 300 jobs, or 1.3 percent, in December but still ended up with 2.6 percent more positions than they had a year earlier. Local government laid off 200 people, landing just less than half a percent below November’s level but still 3.7 percent above December 2014.

Local oil employment was reportedly unchanged in December at 9,700 jobs, which is still nearly a quarter below 2014’s high mark of about 12,500 positions. Manufacturing across the county was also unchanged in December, at 14,600 jobs, or 3.3 percent less than a year before.

In December 2014, the countywide unemployment rate was slightly better at an even 10 percent. Since then, it has dipped to as low as 8.4 percent in September, a post-recession low observers attributed, in large part, to some 3,000 “discouraged job-seekers” temporarily pulling out of the labor market.

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