Unemployment goes down in county

The unemployment rate for the Kingman-Lake Havasu City metropolitan area fell to its lowest level in six months in November, dropping nearly a full point from October's level to settle at 9.7 percent, according to new figures released by the Arizona Department of Commerce's Workforce Informer Web site.

While the number of actual employed workers remains well below where it was at the beginning of the year - 82,800 now versus 85,200 in January - the unemployment rate has fallen due to a continually shrinking civilian labor force, combined with modest increases in the number of private and government employees.

In all, the county added about 500 new non-farm jobs in November. Job growth was confined mainly to education and health services; trade, transportation and utilities; and leisure and hospitality, which posted a gain of 100 jobs each. State and local government, which includes public schools, posted a gain of 300 jobs over the same period.

All other job sectors remained flat in November, with the sole exception of mining and construction, which lost 100 jobs to fall to its lowest level this year. The collapse of demand for new housing construction has left that sector at its lowest employment levels in more than a decade in Mohave County, with just 3,600 employees total compared to a peak of 7,900 in June 2006.

Outside of the county, unemployment also fell across the state in November, with Arizona's seasonally-adjusted rate continuing to track below the U.S. average. Statewide unemployment fell to 8.9 percent from October's 9.3 percent, and now rests a full point below the U.S. unemployment rate of 10 percent. The Kingman-Lake Havasu MSA has also fallen below the U.S. unemployment rate, though it remains among the higher unemployment rates within the state.

Elsewhere in the state, unemployment fell to 9.2 percent in Prescott, 8.4 percent in Phoenix and Flagstaff and 7.9 percent in Tucson.

The only major metro area to see a rise in unemployment was Yuma, where the rate rose .1 percent to 22.7, though that city traditionally experiences high unemployment due to a large number of seasonal workers.