LONG BEACH - With winter weather bringing an end to the building season and only razor clams buoying the coastal tourism sector, new claims for unemployment coverage in Pacific County surged in October.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance hit 314 last month, nearly doubling from September. Initial claims were at their highest so far in 2010 and compared to 266 in October 2009. These claims also increased in the state as a whole, though by a smaller percentage.

Continuing unemployment claims carried over from earlier months also climbed in October, to 400 compared to 278 in September. But these ongoing claims still are an improvement over last year, when 453 people were getting aid in October 2009. Only 22 county residents exhausted their jobless assistance last month, compared to 27 in September and 54 in October 2009.

The county's estimated unemployment rate stood at 10.2 percent in October, down from a revised rate of 10.8 percent in September, and down from 10.7 percent in October 2009.

This October's rate is the lowest since December 2008. These rates from the state's division of Labor Market and Economic Analysis are little more than guesses in low-population counties like ours, being based on broad statistical models.

The statewide jobless rate was 8.5 percent in October, down from 8.7 percent in September and 8.7 percent in October 2009.

Pacific County's total non-farm labor force was estimated to be 5,740 in October, down from 5,790 in September but up from 5,530 in October 2009.

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