Job fair sign

A sign next to the Arizona@Work offices on Morley Avenue in Nogales announces a job fair on Friday. New employment figures show hiring picking up slightly in the county.

Unemployment declined in Santa Cruz County last month as the local economy added 188 jobs, according to new state data.

There were 17,972 people employed in the county in September, up from 17,784 in August, according to a report released Thursday by the Arizona Office of Economic Security.

At the same time, the number of people seeking jobless benefits fell by nearly 300, from 2,420 in August to 2,124 in September.

That dropped Santa Cruz County’s unemployment rate from 12 percent to 10.6 percent.

Even so, the local jobless rate remained the second-highest among Arizona’s 15 counties, trailing only Yuma at 18.6 percent.

Statewide, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased slightly to 4.9 percent in September from 5 percent in August. During that same period, the U.S. jobless rate decreased from 3.7 to 3.5 percent.

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