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December Figures : Jobless Rate in County Hits 10-Year Low

January 26, 1985

The national economic recovery helped push San Diego County's unemployment rate down to 5% in December--a record low for the past decade--according to state labor analysts.

The county's jobless rate was lower than both the state and national figures. The state rate was 6.9%, the national 7%.

The 5% rate, compared with the 6.7% jobless rate in December, 1983, reflects dramatic economic growth, said Jack Nowell, labor analyst with the state Employment Development Department.

"The increase in jobs in 1984 sort of fringed on the spectacular," Nowell said.

About 55,000 new jobs were created in the county in 1984--largely in the retail, construction and service industries, the analyst said.

However, Nowell said he expects the jobless rate to start inching back up in the coming months because of population growth in the county.

"It's a matter of which will grow faster--the new jobs or people looking for jobs," he said.

The county's employment picture has been improving since the spring of 1983. The unemployment rate hovered around 10% during the last half of 1982 and the first three months of 1983.

Still, the last recession did not hit San Diego County as hard as it did the rest of the nation. Of the four major industries affected in the last economic slump--steel, auto, lumber and construction--only construction plays a prominent role in the county's economy, Nowell said.

The 5% figure represents a record low under the method of computation adopted in 1974. The regional jobless figure fell below 3% in the late 1950s, but Nowell said the different reporting system and statistical methods used before 1974 mean the two sets of figures are not comparable.

Total employment in the county in December was recorded at 851,300. An additional 45,300 were reported to be searching for work.

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