Unemployment rates in Santa Cruz County rise and fall during the year in concert with the high (winter) and low (summer) seasons for Mexican produce imports.

The Santa Cruz County economy added nearly 600 jobs in November, according to a new state report.

The uptick in employment comes as the winter produce import season picks up steam and employers add temporary warehouse staff to meet the demand.

The report issued Thursday by the Arizona Department of Economic Opportunity shows that local employment jumped from 18,176 in October to 18,766 in November, its highest level in 2019.

At the same time, unemployment claims dropped from 1,911 in October to 1,640 in November – a decline of 271.

Those factors drove the county’s jobless rate down 1.5 percentage points to 8 percent in November, its lowest level since May.

Still, Santa Cruz County recorded the third-highest jobless rate among Arizona’s 15 counties last month, ahead of only Yuma at 15.4 percent and Apache at 8.9 percent.

At the state level, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in November from 4.8 percent in October.

During that same period, the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent.

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