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Orange County’s unemployment rate fell last month as the pool of individuals looking for work apparently shrank while different sectors saw a mix of drops and gains in employment.

The rate fell to 9% in August from 9.3% in July and 9.8% a year ago, according to the state Employment Development Department.

A smaller pool of job seekers likely took the unemployment rate down even as the county saw a slight dip of 4,600 positions in August, with non-farm employment about flat at 1.36 million.

“People are not entering the labor force,” said Anil Puri, dean of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at Cal State Fullerton. “They are dropping out and not looking for jobs, and that reduces the base, the percentage of unemployment.”

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Government reported the largest decline for the month, a loss of 2,900 jobs. The majority of the drop came in education, which saw cutbacks of 2,500 jobs due to summer recess.

The financial services sector shed 1,200 jobs in August.

Leisure and hospitality cut 800 jobs, and education and health services saw 500 fewer jobs.

Construction saw a drop of 700 jobs, a reverse after three consecutive months of gains.

Manufacturing reported adding 1,600 jobs, the biggest increase of any sector, and the third straight month of gains.

Professional and business services added 700 jobs, boosting employment for the third month in a row.

Trade, transportation and utilities also added 300 jobs last month, continuing a four-month streak of gains.

The numbers showed improvements from a year ago. The county added 11,700 jobs compared with August 2010.

Leisure and hospitality reported the biggest year-over-year gain, as it added 5,900 jobs.

Education and health services added 5,400 jobs compared to a year ago.

Professional and business services added 2,500 jobs, and construction added 2,400 over the same period.

Trade, transportation and utilities reduced 1,600 jobs compared with a year ago.

The statewide unemployment rate rose to 12.1% in August from 12% the prior month. Joblessness remained at 9.1% nationally.