Region’s unemployment rate flat in January as COVID surged
The tri-county region’s unemployment rate was 7.4% in January, the same as in December, as the region and state endured the second month of the winter COVID-19 surge.
California’s unemployment rate was 9% in January, down from 9.3% in December, according to data released March 12 by the state Employment Development Department. The national unemployment rate in December was 6.2%.
In Ventura County, the unemployment rate ticked down from 7.5% in December to 7.4% in January.
Santa Barbara County had the region’s highest unemployment rate, at 7.7% in January, up from 7.6% in December.
San Luis Obispo, which has consistently had the region’s lowest unemployment rates during the pandemic, had a rate of 6.7% in January, the same as in December.
Unemployment in all three counties and across the state remained much higher in January than it had been before the now-lifted stay-home order went into effect in December. In November, the tri-county region’s overall unemployment rate was 6%.
And unemployment remains much higher than the pre-pandemic norm. In January 2020, California’s unemployment rate was 4.2%, and it was below 4% in all three Central Coast counties.
Despite the small drop in the unemployment rate between December and January, the state lost 69,900 payroll jobs in that month, a 0.4% decline. California’s economy shed 1.75 million jobs between January 2020 and January 2021, just under 10% of the pre-pandemic job total.
The recent job loss was concentrated in the leisure and hospitality sector, which shed 70,600 jobs statewide between December and January as COVID cases multiplied and more people stayed home. The manufacturing and construction sectors also lost jobs, while the trade, transportation and utilities sector had the biggest one-month gain, with 13,700 more jobs in January than in December.