Region’s unemployment at record low
The tri-county region’s unemployment rate dipped below 3% in April for the first time on record, as unemployment across the state continued its long post-pandemic decline.
Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties had a combined unemployment rate of 2.9%, down from 3.4% the month before and 6.5% a year earlier, according to data released May 20 by the California Employment Development Department. That was below the statewide rate of 3.8% and the national rate of 3.3%.
Ventura County’s unemployment rate was 3% in April, down from 3.5% in March and 6.7% in April 2021.
In Santa Barbara County, the unemployment rate was 2.8% in April, down from 3.6% the previous month and 6.4% a year earlier.
San Luis Obispo County had an unemployment rate of 2.4% in April, down from 2.8% in March and 5.9% in April 2021.
All three counties in the region reported their lowest unemployment rates since at least 1990, which is as far back as the county-level statistics kept by the Federal Reserve go.
The three counties had the three lowest unemployment rates in Southern California in April, though a number of San Francisco Bay Area counties were even lower, led by San Mateo County at 1.9%.
The state reported a net gain of 41,400 jobs from March to April, with the biggest gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and trade transportation and utilities.
In the Tri-Counties, agriculture led the way, with a net gain of 6,700 jobs in April, compared to just 1,100 nonfarm jobs in the region. That means some of the region’s low unemployment rate might be due to seasonal variation; unemployment rates at the state level are seasonally adjusted, but the county-level statistics are not.
The lackluster gains in non-farm jobs were due largely to the loss of 1,700 government jobs in San Luis Obispo County from March to April. Nearly every other industry in each county gained jobs during the month. The month-to-month drop in the region’s unemployment rate reflects people dropping out of the workforce or leaving the region more than it does people getting jobs, though. There were 8,400 fewer people in the region’s workforce in April than in March, a 1.1% decline.