The unemployment rate dropped by a full percentage point or more in each of the region’s three counties between September and October, according to data released Nov. 20 by the California Unemployment Development Department.
Ventura County’s unemployment rate in October was 7.1%, down from 8.3% the previous month. In Santa Barbara County, the rate was 6.3% in October, down from 7.3% in September. And in San Luis Obispo County, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.2% in September to 6% in October.
The tri-county region’s overall unemployment rate was 6.8% in October, down from 7.8% in September.
Though the job market has improved every month since April, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, unemployment remains high by historical standards. In October 2019, the tri-county unemployment rate was just 3.2%, less than half of what it would be a year later. The workforce also shrunk by 3.5% in that year, as thousands of residents stopped looking for work and were no longer officially classified as unemployed.
California as a whole saw its unemployment rate drop to 9.3% in October, down from 11.1% in September and the first month it had dipped below 10% since the pandemic began. Nine of the 11 industry sectors tracked by the state showed job growth, with the biggest gains in leisure and hospitality. Those gains, however, are at risk as the spread of COVID-19 has accelerated and many restaurants and other businesses face a new round of restrictions and limited hours. The largest job losses were in the public sector, as the federal government ended its employment of temporary census workers.