Kern County's unemployment rate dropped by almost one full point to a seasonally unadjusted 10.3 percent as local farming added more than 9,000 jobs in April, the state reported Friday.

Last month's 22 percent surge in seasonal ag employment came amid a mostly stable jobs picture in Kern, with a few exceptions: Construction shrank by 600 positions, or 3.4 percent; oil and gas shed 200 jobs (1.9 percent); and the leisure and hospitality sector created 500 positions (2 percent).

California's seasonally unadjusted jobless rate declined in April to 6.1 percent from a revised 6.5 percent the month before, while the nation as a whole improved to 5.1 percent from 5.6 percent in March.

Without the gains in farming, Kern's employment total would have contracted by about a quarter of 1 percent, or 800 jobs, according to figures released by California's Employment Development Department.

April's countywide results compare favorably with those of a year prior, when Kern's jobless rate came in at 10.9 percent. That number belies broad improvement tempered by the loss of 1,400 jobs, or 15 percent, in oil and gas, which has suffered from a steep drop in global prices.

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