November 20, 2023
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Region’s unemployment rate climbs to 4.6% in January


The unemployment rates in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties all ticked up between December and January as the omicron wave of COVID-19 worsened, according to data released March 11 by the California Employment Development Department.

The combined unemployment rate for the tri-county region was 4.6% in January, up from 4% in December.

As it has through most of the pandemic, San Luis Obispo County had the region’s lowest unemployment rate in January, at 3.8%, up from 3.5% in December.

In Ventura County, the unemployment rate rose from 4.2% in December to 4.7% in January, and in Santa Barbara County, it rose from 4% in December to 4.7% in January.

Job and unemployment data at the county level are not seasonally adjusted, so some increase from December to January is common, as retailers and other businesses dial back after expanding for the holidays.

California’s unemployment rate was 5.8% in both December and January. The state added 53,600 payroll jobs from December to January, and has now recovered about 82% of the 2.8 million jobs lost in March and April of 2020 as the pandemic began, according to the Employment Development Department’s news release. Total nonfarm jobs in California grew by 7.4% in the year between January 2021 and January 2022, better than the national gain of 4.6%.

Statewide, the biggest job gains from December to January were in trade, transportation and utilities, with 26,600 additional jobs; education and health services, with 11,500 jobs added; and professional and business services, which added 7,100 jobs.

In the tri-county region, the workforce grew slightly from December to January, with 900 more people either employed or looking for work. Most of that gain was in San Luis Obispo County, where the workforce grew by 4.5% in a single month. Santa Barbara County’s workforce grew by just 0.5% in that month, and Ventura County’s workforce shrank by just under 1%.

The number of unemployed people, meanwhile, grew significantly in each county. The tri-county region had 34,600 people who were unemployed and looking for work in January, 13.8% more than the month before.