Unemployment levels stabilize

Unemployment stabilized in San Diego County in February at a rate that is lower than the state and national average, the state Economic Development Department reported today.

The unemployment rate in the county was 8.8 percent in February, which is up just a tenth of a percent from January, although it was up 3.3 percent from February 2008, according to the EDD.

The jobless rate in the county is lower than California’s rate of 10.9 percent and the nation’s unemployment rate of 8.9 percent.

The biggest declines in the county between January and February were in the retail sector, which lost about 3,100 jobs.

The biggest increase in jobs cited by the EDD was 1,600 new hires by school districts, some of which are planning to lay off teachers at the end of the academic year.

Total employment by local school districts remains down from the same

time last year, however.

In the past year, 10,100 construction jobs were lost and local firms cut 8,600 retail positions.