September 22, 2023
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Tri-county unemployment rate ticks down in December


The unemployment rate in California dropped a half a percentage point between November and December, while the tri-county job picture improved by a much smaller margin, according to data released Jan. 21 by the California Employment Development Department.

The statewide unemployment rate was 6.5% in December, down from 7% in November, the biggest month-to-month improvement since early 2021.

The tri-county region has had lower unemployment than the state as a whole throughout most of the pandemic, and December was no exception: The combined unemployment rate in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties was 4%, down from 4.1% in November.

Ventura County’s unemployment rate was 4.2% in December, down from 4.4% in November. In Santa Barbara County, the unemployment rate crept up, from 3.9% in November to 4% in December. And in San Luis Obispo County, it declined from 3.6% in November to 3.5% in December.

In all three counties, though, the workforce shrank, reversing a trend from most of 2021. The region as a whole had 0.9% fewer employed people in December than the month before, and 4.4% fewer unemployed people.

California gained 50,700 nonfarm payroll jobs in December, accounting for more than 25% of the nation’s job gains for the month. The state has now regained 1.9 million jobs since April 2020, or about 72% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every sector tracked by the state gained jobs in December, except for the smallest one, mining and logging, which stayed flat. The biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and education and health services.

California’s unemployment rate remains much higher than the nation’s, which was 3.9% in December.