Unemployment rate remains high in Contra Costa Co.

August 19, 2011 6:20:29 PM PDT
California's overall unemployment picture goes from bad to worse. The number of people out of work jumped again last month. The state's unemployment rate rose to 12 percent in July, up from 11.8 percent in June. Solano County posted the highest rate in the Bay Area at 12.2 percent.

While lower than California as whole, Contra Costa County's 11 percent unemployment rate is still higher than much of the Bay Area.

Nathan Webber moved to the area two months ago, and he's having a hard time finding a job to support his wife and disabled son.

"I haven't been unemployed since I was 16," said Webber. "So yeah, it's very difficult being unemployed, not bringing in any income."

Webber is among many who arrive at Concord's EASTBAY Works office each morning, hoping this will be the day they find the lead that lands them a job.

"I think we have more people utilizing services within the one-stops, more people taking advantage of the different workshops that we're running, the different job seeker groups," said Barbara Vineyard with the Employment Development Department (EDD).

And it appears more unemployed clients may be coming through the doors. Bank of America announced it will lay off 3,500 employees nationwide. Contacted by ABC7 News, the company would not say whether employees at its multi-building campus in Concord will be affected.

Bryen Connolly is a carpenter who hasn't had steady work for two years, but he takes some comfort in knowing he's not alone.

"As long as I keep showing up and I take these classes, it seems like the more people I meet, the more motivated I get," said Connolly. "It keeps me motivated."

Roxanne Sue is jumping into a tough job market after one year away from the healthcare industry.

"I'm nervous when I hear about all the statistics on the radio," said Sue. "I'm not nervous because I know from just a place of surety inside that I know there's something out there for me and it will come at the right time."

Despite the increase in the unemployment numbers statewide, there were positive aspects of the report here in the Bay Area. Overall, the Bay Area unemployment held steady at 10.1 percent, adding 8,000 jobs. More than 1,100 of those jobs were in Silicon Valley. The East Bay added 1,900 construction jobs last month, more than double the July average over the past 20 years. Marin County has the Bay Area's lowest unemployment rate at 8 percent.

There is at least one area of growth in the Bay Area -- the retail job sector. Local employment officials are eager to see whether the job growth is a result of summer/seasonal jobs or whether the growth will be sustained through the holidays.

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