Construction workers on a job site. Photo via Pixabay

The unemployment rate in San Diego County decreased to 6.7% in April, down from a revised 7.8% in March and considerably improved from the year-ago rate of 15.9% at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department showed a higher statewide unemployment rate at 8.1% in April, down from 8.2% in March. The country posted a 5.7% unemployment rate in the same time period, down from 6.2% in March.

Between March and April, non-farm employment in San Diego County increased by 9,800 positions, from 1,389,600 to 1,399,400, and agricultural employment remained unchanged at 9,100.

“Everyone is now waiting for June 15 when the governor will release the brakes on most of the economy,” said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University. “If San Diego can find the workers, it will be ready to speed ahead. Our workforce will be holding the keys to our recovery.”

Leisure and hospitality added the most jobs over the month — 7,000. Accommodation and food services boosted the overall sector by 5,700 jobs — 81% of the total — with 4,500 of those in food and drinking establishments. Arts, entertainment, and recreation — up 1,300 jobs — completed the overall sectoral gain.

“Service-sector employers continue to recruit heavily in their efforts to return to pre-pandemic employment levels, which will require hiring at least 40,000 workers,” said  Daniel Enemark, the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s senior economist.

Construction grew by 3,300 jobs, educational and health services by 2,200, other services by 1,600, and government and manufacturing by 300 each.

Trade, transportation, and utilities lost 2,300 jobs over the month. The loss was predominantly in transportation, warehousing and utilities — down 1,600 jobs — followed by retail trade with 900 jobs lost, but offset by gains in wholesale trade, up 200. Three other sectors posted declines, including professional and business services shedding 2,000 jobs, financial activities losing 500 and information down 100 jobs. Mining and logging remained unchanged.

Between April 2020 and April 2021, non-farm employment increased by 132,200, or 10.4%. Agricultural employment increased by 700, or 8.3%.

Leisure and hospitality rose by 48,800 jobs, the largest increase over the year. Accommodation and food services — up 45,100 jobs — accounted for 92% of the increase, where food services and drinking places increased by 40,200 jobs. Arts, entertainment, and recreation — up 3,700 jobs — completed the sectoral gain. Despite job gains, leisure and hospitality employment is still below pre-pandemic levels. The last time, prior to 2020, employment was below 144,800 was March 2005

Trade, transportation, and utilities increased by 24,700 jobs.

Government employment was down the most over the year with 3,500 jobs lost. Local government led the loss with a decline of 5,900 jobs, followed by federal government losing 100. Declines were offset by gains in state government — up 2,500 jobs. The information sector declined by 200 jobs over the year.

Updated at 2:50 p.m., Friday, May 21, 2020

— City News Service

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