City Unemployment Rate Reaches Lowest Point Since May 2009

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Berkeley's unemployment rate decreased to 10.3 percent in December, the lowest it has been since a 9.9 percent rate in May 2009, according to preliminary figures released Jan. 21 by the California Employment Development Department.

Berkeley's labor force in December was 57,600, of which 5,900 were unemployed, according to the department. Unemployment in Berkeley peaked at 11.3 percent in July.

The finalized rate for November 2010 was 10.7 percent - 0.2 percent up from October. Preliminary rates are sometimes revised a month after they are released.

Nearby cities also saw decreases in unemployment between November and December. Oakland's unemployment rate dropped from 16.8 percent to 16.3 percent, Emeryville's decreased from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, Albany's fell from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent and Richmond's went from 17.8 percent to 17.5 percent.

The rate for Alameda County, which is typically lower than that of nearby counties, decreased as well - from 11.2 percent in November to 10.8 percent in December, according to the department. California's rate decreased from 12.4 percent in November to 12.3 percent in December. The national rate decreased to 9.4 percent - 0.5 percent lower than the December 2009 rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The January 2011 rate further decreased to 9 percent.

The December 2009 unemployment rate for Berkeley was 10.5 percent, according to the department. Within the last year, the rate fluctuated between 10.3 percent and 11.3 percent, though in recent months it followed a decreasing trend. The city's latest unemployment rate increase occurred between October and November, when it jumped from 10.5 percent to 10.7 percent. Prior to this most recent increase, the city's rate followed a decreasing trend for three months.

Unemployment figures for January 2011 will be available March 4.

Stephanie Baer is the assistant city news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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