By David Mills
Although the region added only 600 new jobs last month, Alameda County's unemployment dropped to 6.3 percent in December from 6.8 percent in November, according to state data released Friday.
Piedmont had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the county for December at 3.2 percent. Only Albany, at 2.6 percent, and Pleasanton, at 3.1 percent, had lower December rates.
For Alameda and Contra Costa County counties combined, the jobless rate had fallen from 7.0 to 6.8 percent in November as the East Bay added 4,900 jobs, according to figures from the California Employment Development Department.
The rate dropped by a larger margin last month even though fewer jobs were created, meaning a significant number of unemployed people probably stopped searching for work.
Marin County had the state's lowest jobless rate at 4.2 percent, down from 4.6 percent the previous month. The highest rate last month was in Imperial County with 22.5 percent.
Alameda County's rate ranked 10th lowest among the state's 58 counties.
State officials said the East Bay added 2,700 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities, more than half of that total coming in retail trade.
Private education and health services added 1,000 jobs. The financing sector added 300 jobs while manufacturing had 200 more jobs.
However, the construction industry lost 1,600 jobs and government agencies shed 900 jobs.
Special services lost 500 jobs while 200 jobs were lost in business and professional services as well as in leisure and hospitality.