News Release Information

Friday, April 15, 2016


Technical information:
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Unemployment in the San Francisco Bay Area by County — February 2016

All Nine Counties Posted Lower Unemployment Rates than in the Previous Year

In February, San Mateo County had the lowest unemployment rate in the San Francisco Bay Area, at 3.0 percent, and Solano County had the highest at 5.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Richard Holden, the Bureau’s Assistant Commissioner for Regional Operations, noted that 8 of the 9 local-area counties had jobless rates below the national average of 5.2 percent. (See chart 1. The Technical Note at the end of this release contains the metropolitan area definition. All data in this release are not seasonally adjusted; accordingly, over-the-year analysis is used throughout.)

In February 2016, all nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area had over-the-year unemployment rate decreases, with the largest decline in Solano County (-1.0 percentage point). Among the other eight counties, jobless rate declines ranged from 0.8 percentage point each in Contra Costa and Sonoma Counties to 0.4 point in Marin County. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell 0.6 percentage point from February a year ago. (See table A).

Table A. Unemployment rates for the United States, California, and San Francisco Bay Area Counties, not seasonally adjusted
Area Unemployment rate Change from
Feb 2014 Feb 2015 Feb 2016 Feb 2014 to Feb 2016(1) Feb 2015 to Feb 2016(1)

United States

7.0 5.8 5.2 -1.8 -0.6
California 8.4 6.9 5.7 -2.7 -1.2

Alameda County

6.5 5.0 4.3 -2.2 -0.7

Contra Costa County

6.9 5.3 4.5 -2.4 -0.8

Marin County

4.8 3.6 3.2 -1.6 -0.4

Napa County

6.6 5.0 4.5 -2.1 -0.5

San Francisco County

4.9 3.8 3.3 -1.6 -0.5

San Mateo County

4.8 3.5 3.0 -1.8 -0.5

Santa Clara County

5.8 4.3 3.8 -2.0 -0.5

Solano County

8.5 6.6 5.6 -2.9 -1.0

Sonoma County

6.3 4.9 4.1 -2.2 -0.8

(1) Data for California and San Francisco Bay Area counties are preliminary for the most recent month.

All nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area had unemployment rate decreases from February 2014 to February 2016. Solano County had the largest decline (-2.9 percentage points); Marin and San Francisco Counties had the smallest decreases (-1.6 points each). Jobless rate declines in the other six counties ranged from 2.4 percentage points in Contra Costa County to 1.8 points in San Mateo County. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell 1.8 percentage points over the two-year period.

The Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news release for March is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).

Technical Note

This release presents unemployment rate data for states and counties from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program, a federal-state cooperative endeavor. 

Definitions. The labor force and unemployment data are based on the same concepts and definitions as those used for the official national estimates obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households that is conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The LAUS program measures employment and unemployment on a place-of-residence basis.  The universe for each is the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and over.  Employed persons are those who did any work at all for pay or profit in the reference week (the week including the 12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation. Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference week (based on the definition above), had actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period ending with the reference week, and were currently available for work; persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed.  The labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

Methods of Estimation. The LAUS program is a hierarchy of non-survey methodologies for indirectly estimating employment and unemployment in states and local areas. Statewide data are produced through a modeling technique that uses estimates of payroll jobs from the Current Employment Statistics survey and unemployment insurance claims counts from the state workforce agencies to mitigate volatility in the direct CPS tabulations of employment and unemployment, respectively. Data for labor market areas, such as metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions, are produced through a building block approach and adjusted proportionally to state model-based totals. Data for counties within labor market areas are produced through a disaggregation technique. A detailed description of the LAUS estimation procedures is available in chapter 4 of the BLS Handbook of Methods at

Annual revisions. Labor force and unemployment data for prior years reflect adjustments made at the end of each year, usually implemented with January estimates. The adjusted estimates reflect updated population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, any revisions in the other data sources, and model reestimation. All substate estimates are reestimated and adjusted to add to the revised model-based estimates.

Area definitions. The San Francisco Bay Area includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma Counties in California.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.


Last Modified Date: Friday, April 15, 2016