The tri-county region’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.4% in March to 6% in April, equaling its lowest rate since the pandemic began, according to a Business Times analysis of data released May 21 by the California Employment Development Department.
The drop in the unemployment rate was due in part to job growth, but a shrinking workforce was a bigger factor: The region added 800 jobs but saw 1,700 people drop out of the workforce, which means they are no longer counted as unemployed.
Ventura County’s unemployment rate was 6.2% in April, down from 6.4% in March. Santa Barbara County’s rate dropped from 6.6% in March to 6% in April. And in San Luis Obispo County, unemployment was 5.6% in April, down from 5.8% in March.
Santa Barbara County led the jobs recovery, with 2,800 more jobs in April than it had in March, as well as a growing workforce. Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties both lost jobs in the month, with San Luis Obispo County losing 1,600 jobs and Ventura County shedding 400.
Though San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment rate dropped, and it consistently has the lowest rate in the region, in April the county saw the number of people in its workforce shrink by 1.5% and the number of employed people drop by 1.3%.
All three counties in the region had a healthier job market than the state as a whole, with California’s unemployment rate at 8.3% in April, the same as in March. The state did gain 101,800 non-farm payroll jobs in the month, and has regained 48% of the 2.7 million jobs lost in March and April of 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statewide, the leisure and hospitality industry gained the most jobs, at 62,800, followed by professional and business services, at 19,000.