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Job-seekers fill the gym at Nogales High School on Oct. 18 for an employment fair.

The local economy added slightly more than 200 jobs in October, according to a new report from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

There were 18,190 people officially employed in Santa Cruz County last month, up from 17,985 in September, according to the data released Thursday.

At the same time, the number of people applying for formal unemployment benefits in the county fell to 1,915 in October from 2,122 in September, the report says. Those trends dropped the local unemployment rate to 9.5 in October, the first time since June it was in single digits.

The local produce import sector begins hiring seasonal warehouse help in the fall, then lays off workers in large numbers in the slow summer months, contributing to large sways in employment rates in Santa Cruz County during the course of a year. This year, the jobless rate has fluctuated between a high of 12 percent in August to a low of 6.5 percent in April.

And despite the fact that Santa Cruz County’s unemployment rate dipped below double-digits last month, it remains the second-highest among Arizona’s 15 counties, trailing only Yuma at 16.1 percent.

Statewide in October, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased slightly to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent in September 2019. During that same period, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent.

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