Unemployment in the Salem area fell in December 2010 to 10.8 percent, down from the November revised rate of 11.5 percent.

It’s the first time since June 2010 that the unemployment rate for the Salem area has dropped.

The number is still slightly higher than the statewide seasonally adjusted rate of 10.6 percent, and is higher than the 10.5 percent rate in December 2009.

Statistics are for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Keizer.

An estimated 21,191 Marion and Polk county residents were unemployed in a labor force of 197,469, according to WorkSource Oregon. An estimated 1,314 more people were unemployed in the area than in December 2009.

Total non-farm employment in December was 144,000, a decline of 2,700 jobs since December 2009, with 2,400 coming from the private sector.

In the month, total nonfarm employment fell by 1,500 jobs, with the private sector losing 1,200 and government dropping 300 jobs. The employment loss between November and December is “very typical” for the Salem area, according to Regional Economist Patrick O’Connor. The area has lost more than 11,000 jobs between April 2008 and December 2010, O’Connor stated.

In key sectors:

• Construction shed 200 jobs in December and has declined by 600 jobs in the past 12 months.

• Professional and business services continued to decline, dropping 100 positions.

• Manufacturing jobs fell by 600 jobs, mostly due to seasonal adjustments in food manufacturing.

• Retail trade was unchanged in December but fell 800 jobs over the past 12 months.

• In the public sector, local government dropped 200 jobs and state government 100 positions. Federal job numbers were unchanged.

O’Connor expects high unemployment rates to persist in 2011.