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Del Norte working hard or hardly working?

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By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County is "looking pretty good" as far as unemployment statistics go.

That's according to Dennis Mullins, a labor market consultant for this area. Based in Eureka, Mullins said the number of unemployed here ranks tiny Del Norte County in "the middle" of counties statewide.

"The middle's not a bad place to be," Mullins said

January statistics from California's Economic Development department indicate an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in Del Norte County.

That rate means that 0.4 percent fewer people were jobless this January than one year ago.

The difference is about 30 more county residents are unemployed.

"That's a good thing for Del Norte County," Mullins said. "Two-hundred seventy more people are employed this January than last January."

Mullins referred to the total industry employment numbers, which include all workers except those who are self employed.

The unemployment rate in Del Norte County ranked 33rd in the state, which has 58 counties.

Although Del Norte County's rate is not the lowest of all Northern California counties, Rural Human Services Director Larry Lakes said it is lowest of those of similar size within the region.

Lakes also crunched the latest jobless stats, released recently, and made some comparisons of his own. He, too, found an improvement between jobless numbers from this January and January a year ago.

Areas of the economy showing the highest one-year growth included:

• Information services –10 percent.

•Leisure/Hospitality and Arts/Recreation – 8.7 percent.

•Private Service, Trade, Transportation and Utilities – 8.5 percent.

•Education and Health –6.4 percent.

The four sections together encompass one-third of all employment in the county, Lakes said.

Problem areas

Jobs shrank in two areas of the local economy:

• Food Service/Drinking, down 1.9 percent.

• Professional and business services, down 6.3 percent for the year.

Both are areas that Lakes said will be "the focus" of upcoming marketing efforts.

"We are doing some work with Larry (Lakes)," said Sutter Coast Hospital Chief Financial Officer Jim Strong.

Strong puts on his other hat when he chairs meetings involving Motivo and Ripple Effects Interactive, the new Tourism and Marketing marketing effort launched recently.

"Our Website will be up in May," he said. "We're working on radio spots to promote some of our smaller events."

Under wraps is a bells and whistles interactive tourism marketing site featuring 20 different itineraries keyed to different types of tourists.

Motivo is working on it with REI and other consultants.

Among the marketing "segments" are families and senior citizens, "urban naturalists and city slickers," "mancationers," (defined as men vacationing together), eco-tourists, bird watchers, campers, hikers, surfers and so on.

Each group is further broken down by desired type of adventure, its duration and skill level.

The Website and marketing program is slated for debut May 1 in tandem with the upcoming Crescent City Tall Ships Festival.

"Our major strategy is to have a top drawer Website, use the $250,000 in BiCoastal media money, and mix in more print media after July 1," Strong said.

That's the date that the group can begin its "next budget round" with City of Crescent City as it cycles into its next fiscal year.

Strong said the group will also "take advantage of the county's three-year commitment of $62,000 per year," and may ask local rancherias for funding in the second and third years of its campaign.

Other counties' stats

Humboldt County's jobless rate was 6.3 percent during the same period.

Lakes said that's a drop of 4.6 percent from January 2006.

Other Northern California counties' unemployment rates were 10.8 percent in Siskiyou County, a drop of 1.4 percent during the year.

Lassen County's 9.7 percent rate translates to 4.9 percent fewer jobless people there.

In Plumas County, the 11.3 percent January 2007 rate was a drop of only 0.6 percent of jobless workers.

Tehama County's 7.6 percent January 2007 rate meant that area had 2.3 percent fewer jobless workers.

Del Norte County's civilian employment grew 3.3 percent in January.

That, said Lakes, is a faster-paced rate than Humboldt County's, at 1.6 percent.

"Del Norte County still faces the challenge of a high percent of government employment ... compared to other counties in the survey," Lakes said.

Del Norte's government employment rate was 45 percent, which compares to 28 percent in Humboldt County, 29 Percent in Siskiyou County, 57 percent in Lassen County, 35 percent in Plumas County and 24 percent in Tehama County.

 


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