Fewer tourists hikes jobless rate
A soft tourist season has triggered a sharp drop in jobs for western Nevada County workers who serve food, mix drinks, and cater to summer visitors.
Leisure and hospitality jobs in the county declined 6.6 percent last month from June 2003, with employment in food service and drinking establishments down 9.2 percent to 2,180, according to statistics released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
“Our numbers are also down,” said Mary Ann Mueller, president/ceo of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We are attributing it to the high cost of gas. You’re talking $40 to $50 to fill up some of these SUVs.”
Most visitors make one- to three-day trips to the area from the Bay Area and Southern California, Mueller noted. “Things don’t seem quite as busy as they normally are,” she said.
Cathy Whittlesey, executive manager of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said she has been told by local merchants that tourism is down. “But this weekend, it’s a challenge to get a room around here,” she added.
The county’s unemployment rate increased just 0.1 percent to 4.8 percent in June, while the state rate jumped 0.4 to 6.3 percent and the national rate increased 0.5 to 5.8 percent.
Jobs in the county totaled 29,330 in June, down 1.2 percent from the year-earlier period. But manufacturing continued to show strength, increasing 5.9 percent to 1,970 jobs from the year-earlier period.
“The fact that (the total) is up over the year is great,” said Mary Mahoney, labor market consultant for EDD. “We look to those as the year-around jobs – jobs that aren’t going to fluctuate according to seasonality.”
Change in employment related to tourism
June 2003 June 2004 % Change
Overall Leisure and Hospitality
3,940 3,680 -6.6
Food Service, Drinking
2,400 2,180 -9.2
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
1,540 1,500 -2.6
Source: state Employment Development Department
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