Unemployment in the tri-county region dropped to 6.4% in March, the second lowest rate since the pandemic began, according to Business Times analysis of data released by the California Employment Development Department on April 16.
The regional and state job markets improved as COVID-19 declined from their January high mark. The tri-county unemployment rate was 6.8% in February and 7.4% in January. The state has followed a similar trajectory: California’s unemployment rate was 8.3% in March, down from 8.5% in February and 9% in January.
Santa Barbara had the region’s highest unemployment rate in March at 6.6%, down from 7.1% in February.
Ventura County’s unemployment rate in March was 6.4%, down from 6.8% in February.
And San Luis Obispo once again had the region’s lowest unemployment rate in March, at 5.8%, compared to 6.3% in February.
The statewide improvement was driven by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 42,400 jobs from February to March; the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which added 32,200 jobs; and business and professional services, which added 22,000 jobs. The only sectors to shed jobs during the month were financial activities, which lost just 600 jobs, and agriculture, which lost 1,200 jobs.
However, a small portion of the decline in the unemployment rate was due to people dropping out of the workforce. The state’s civilian labor force shrank by 39,700 people, or 0.2%, between February and March.