Berkeley Unemployment Rate Falls to 10.5 Percent in October

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Correction Appended

Berkeley's unemployment rate decreased to 10.5 percent in October, the lowest it has been since the 9.9 percent rate in May 2009, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.

Berkeley's labor force in October was 58,200, of which 6,100 were unemployed, according to the department. Unemployment in Berkeley peaked at 11.3 percent in July.

The finalized rate for September 2010 was 11 percent. Preliminary rates are sometimes revised a month after they are released.

Nearby cities also saw decreases in unemployment between September and October. Oakland's unemployment rate dropped from 17.3 percent to 16.6 percent, Emeryville's decreased from 8.3 percent to 8 percent, Albany's fell from 5 percent to 4.8 percent and Richmond's went from 18.0 percent to 17.5 percent.

The rate for Alameda County, which is generally lower than that of nearby counties, decreased as well - from 11.6 percent in September to 11 percent in October, according to the department. California's rate decreased from 12.2 percent in September to 12 percent in October, while the national rate increased to 9.7 percent - 0.1 percent higher than the September rate.

The October 2009 unemployment rate for Berkeley was 10.9 percent, according to the department. Within the last year, the rate fluctuated between 10.5 percent and 11.3 percent, though in recent months it followed a decreasing trend. The city's latest unemployment rate increase occurred between June and July, when it jumped from 10.9 percent to 11.3 percent.

As a result of discussions with two unions, Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 and Public Employees Union, Local 1, this summer the city managed to postpone 77 layoffs for the first eight to 10 months of the fiscal year beginning July 1, reflecting the city's rather steady unemployment rates in recent months.

City staff's proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year - which was passed by the Berkeley City Council June 22 - suggested the layoffs as one cost-cutting measure to tackle the city's overall projected $16.2 million deficit.

Unemployment figures for November will be available Dec. 17.

Correction: Monday, February 14, 2011
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the national unemployment rate remained at 12.4 percent in October 2010. In fact, the rate increased from 9.6 percent in September 2010 to 9.7 percent.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Stephanie Baer is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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