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Berkeley's unemployment rate drops to 8.9 percent, lowest in nearly three years

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JANUARY 20, 2012

Berkeley’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in December, the lowest it has been in nearly three years, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.

December’s rate marks a drop from November’s rate of 9.1 percent, which itself was the lowest the city had seen since February 2009.

The city has experienced a significant drop in unemployment since the beginning of 2011, falling 1.6 percent since the January rate of 10.5 percent.

Starting in early 2009, Berkeley’s unemployment rate rarely dipped below 10 percent, until it began consistently falling each month after September 2011.

This recent trend in the city matches the decline in unemployment rates that California has seen recently. The state’s unemployment rate fell for the fifth month in a row to 11.1 percent in December.

In Alameda County, the unemployment rate has been dropping over the course of the year as well. In December, the county’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent, a drop from the year’s high — tied in January and July — of 11 percent.

Berkeley’s rate remains higher than the national unemployment rate, which was 8.5 percent in December, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average unemployment rate in the nation during 2011 was 8.9 percent, according to the data.

Soumya Karlamangla is the city news editor.

JANUARY 20, 2012