The tri-county region’s combined unemployment rate shot up from 6% in November to 7.4% in December as a wave of COVID-19 cases brought the most widespread business closures since the spring.
The rest of the state suffered a similar fate, with California’s unemployment rate going from 8.1% in November to 9% in December, according to data released Jan. 22 by the state Employment Development Department. It was the first increase in the unemployment rate since May, early in the pandemic.
In Ventura County, the unemployment rate was 7.5% in December, up from 6.3% in November and more than double the rate in December 2019, when it was 3.4%.
Santa Barbara County had 7.6% unemployment in December, up from 5.8% the month before and 3.6% a year earlier.
San Luis Obispo County had the region’s lowest unemployment rate in December, at 6.7%. That was up from 5.5% in November and 2.5% in December 2019, before the pandemic.
The state lost 52,200 nonfarm jobs between November and December. The biggest losses were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which shed 117,000 jobs. Construction gained 31,600 jobs, and professional and business services grew by 29,600 jobs.