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Placer jobs picture darkens but some silver linings emerge

10.1 percent unemployment lowest in region but still higher than national average
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - While the unemployment rate has risen, Employment Development Department figures show Placer County continues to be lower than other counties in the region. And although the county’s 10.1 percent unemployment rate is still higher than the 8.8 percent national unemployment average, there are glimmers of economic hope. Dingus McGees restaurant on Chubb Road in Bowman opened in November and has found success – so much so that the eatery has already increased its work force from 37 to 47 employees. “Those are all local people,” said Danielle Nelson, Dingus McGees co-owner with her husband, Dave. “When we first opened we were cautiously optimistic but we’ve had to quickly up our staffing.” Nelson said she recalls taking a deep breath of surprise when she looked at staffing levels and realized the restaurant had close to 50 employees. Nelson also owns the Big Salad restaurant in Downtown Auburn and a decision to provide the same salads at Dingus McGees has created such a demand at the other business, they’re already looking at hiring one or two more employees there, she said. “The last couple of years, like others in the Downtown, we’ve definitely felt the downturn,” Nelson said. “The double-dip in the menu has helped.” Dianne Patterson, a labor market analyst for the Employment Development Department’s labor market information division, said the seasonal nature of employment dropped the number of jobs in the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties by 10,900 in January to 800,500. Year-over-year, however, the four counties had still increased job numbers by 15,000. While health jobs gained more than 3,600 positions, the leisure and hospitality industry led the region in job losses, with much of that coming from businesses like skiing, she said. Home Instead Senior Care held a recruitment open house in Auburn on Thursday that attracted our people. Owner Buck Shaw said that he’s positive about the future for his business and the potential for more job creation. The business provides in-home care services. “We’ve stayed pretty steady through these tough times,” Shaw said. “But our business is a bit of an anomaly because demand is so high for care-givers.” Snow was falling in the Sierra, which was good news to the Placer County ski industry that had been off to a slow start. Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said that this year’s down market could be buffered by a heavy final part of the season. He added that it’s hard to compare this year to last year’s “monster year,” when 800 inches of snow fell at Squaw Valley and skiing continued into July because of a cold spring. “We still have a month or more of the season in front of us,” Chapman said. Dave Snyder, director of Placer County’s Office of Economic Development, said that one can always be taken aback by an increase in unemployment measures. But Snyder added that it had been going down for several months. “I’m not an economist but I suspect at this time of year, a post-holiday slowdown is happening,” Snyder said. “The silver lining for me is to look back a year ago and see that the comparisons are significant.”