The San Diego region’s unemployment rate dipped to 12.3% in July, a 1.5% drop from the previous month, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
According to the EDD, total non-farm employment in San Diego County decreased by 2,200 jobs — from 1,357,000 to 1,355,000 — while farm employment remained unchanged.
The decrease in jobs coinciding with a simultaneous decrease in the unemployment rate could indicate that fewer people are actively searching for work, or are looking outside the county for employment — not a good sign for the local economy.
The coronavirus pandemic and related job losses loom large over the economy even as some industries resume business. The unemployment rate at this time last year was 3.6%.
Job gains during the past three months have offset less than a third of the large losses suffered in March and April. As a result, San Diego’s job total is now 167,000, or 11%, below February’s pre-pandemic peak.
“We continue to see large and abrupt shifts in who is hiring and not hiring,” remarked Peter Callstrom, CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “Occupational clusters in tourism and hospitality continue to be hit hard and may never be the same.”
At the same time, Callstrom pointed to new jobs for contact tracers and hospital greeters, which could lead to new career paths in healthcare.
“In less than six months, the job market has changed from the brightest to the bleakest for job seekers,” said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University. She pointed to the value of increasing education and skills to prepare for better opportunities in the year ahead when a vaccine could enable a full recovery to take hold.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 13.7% in July from 15.1% the month before, while nationally, the rate decreased to 10.5% from 11.2% in the same time period.
Government jobs led in local losses, with local government educational services — jobs such as school bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers — losing 13,200 jobs while the industry gained just 600 other local government jobs. Construction jobs fell by 1,100.
Leading the way in job gains was the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which gained 6,100 jobs over the past month. Educational and health services gained 2,400 jobs, other services 1,900, manufacturing 500 and professional and business services 400. Financial activities, leisure and hospitality and information all posted modest gains.
Comparing year-over-year, the San Diego region lost 144,400 non-farm jobs and 600 agricultural jobs. Leisure and hospitality continue to top the list in jobs lost, with a total of 60,800 jobs lost since last July — 45,000 of which came in accommodation and food services.
Since the same time last year, trade, transportation and utilities shed 18,400 jobs, government lost 14,500, other services 13,500, educational and health services 11,400, manufacturing 7,400, construction 5,700, professional and business services 5,400, information 3,800 and financial activities lost 3,500 jobs.
City News Service contributed to this article.