Joblessness in Kern County fell to 6.6 percent in September, its lowest level in 12 years as a month-over-month surge in farm employment and a smaller increase in government hiring helped make up for declines in construction, manufacturing and service industries.
The state Employment Development Department's estimate of the county's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate last month is down from 7.2 percent in August, and 7.5 percent in September of 2017.
Though driven largely by seasonal ag hiring, September's decline highlights Kern's general recovery from the Great Recession, at least in employment terms. The county's jobless rate had swelled to as high as 17.6 percent in March of 2010.
California's unemployment rate in September slid to 3.9 percent from 4.3 percent in August, also expressed on a seasonally unadjusted basis, while the national rate decreased to 3.6 percent in September from 3.9 percent the month before.
Kern's employment performance in September was mixed: Although some sectors posted strong gains, several others demonstrated weakness.
Farm employment in the county jumped by 4,700 positions, the EDD said, ending the month 300 jobs higher than the 73,200 reported in September of 2017.
The number of construction jobs in Kern were listed as declining by a 100, or less than 1 percent, while manufacturing lost 200 positions, or 1.4 percent, the state reported.
Retail employment shrank by 300 jobs, or about 1 percent. Health care and social assistance jobs remained steady. The leisure and hospitality sector posted a 300-job, 1.1 percent decline.
Meanwhile, government work in the county expanded by 1,700 positions, or 2.8 percent, led by hiring in local education.