The Coast News Group
Shoppers gear up for the holidays in Encinitas last year. Although retail sales weren’t as strong as anticipated, the county’s unemployment rate still fell in December. File photo

Jobless rate drops for coast cities, county

COAST CITIES — Encinitas’ unemployment rate continued its slow march downward in December, according to a newly released report from the California Employment Development Department. 

The unemployment rate for Encinitas was 5.7 percent in December, falling slightly from November’s number of 5.9 percent. The jobless rate has been on the decline in Encinitas since June, when it was at 6.6 percent.

Respectively, the county’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, the lowest since the end of 2008.

Alan Gin, an economist with the University of San Diego, noted that the report isn’t seasonally adjusted. As such, the county’s rate is actually closer to 8.7 percent.

In December, county businesses reported hiring fewer workers than November.

“December was a bit disappointing,” Gin said, adding that businesses hired “quite a few people” in November to prepare for what was expected to be a strong holiday season. However, the surge in jobs tapered off into December, because retail sales were weaker than anticipated, Gin said.

“That’s what national trends showed,” Gin said. “And the numbers for local retail sales aren’t in yet, but that’s probably the case.”

Gin said that 2013 would likely be a better year for job growth. Countywide, 20,000 jobs were added in 2012. This year, Gin projects more than 25,000 new jobs.

That is if the “fiscal cliff” doesn’t weigh down the local economy. San Diego has 30,000 defense-related jobs that are in jeopardy if federal lawmakers can’t agree on a budget, according to an analysis by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Gin said his job forecast for 2013 “assumes legislators will act rationally.” However, he believes there’s no guarantee that will happen “given the political climate.”

Like Encinitas, the unemployment rate ticked down in other coast cities.

Carlsbad’s rate clocked in at 5.3 percent. Respectively, Del Mar was at 4.2 percent, Solana Beach hit 5.5 percent and Oceanside’s rate was 7.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the jobless rate remained higher in inland cities, but those areas also saw a decline.

Vista’s rate in December was 9.0 percent, trending down from November’s number of 9.3. San Marcos was 8.1 percent and Escondido reached 8.4 percent.