Unemployment rate in California. Photo credit: wycokck.org.

The unemployment rate in San Diego County decreased to 6.4% in May, down from a revised 6.7% in April — but well below the year- ago rate of 15.6% as the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic were becoming clear — according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.

“Two constraints faced San Diego businesses in May,” according to economist Lynn Reaser at Point Loma Nazarene University. “Many were not allowed to fully reopen and even more could not find employees. Filling job openings will now be San Diego’s major challenge in the months ahead.”

Phil Blair, executive officer of Manpower West, said employees are taking more time to consider their options and companies will need to work harder at recruiting.

“San Diego’s economy could soar during the next several months if businesses can find employees,” said Reaser.

Statewide, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 7.5% in May, down from 8.1% in April. The country posted a 5.5% unemployment rate in the same time period, down from 5.7% in April.

Between April and May, non-farm employment in San Diego County increased by 2,000, from 1,398,600 to 1,400,600 and agricultural employment increased by 300 to 9,400.

Leisure and hospitality added the most jobs over the month with an increase of 3,900 jobs — gaining for the fourth consecutive month. Accommodation and food services boosted the overall sector by 3,100 jobs — 79% of the total. Arts, entertainment, and recreation — up 800 jobs– completed the overall sectoral gain.

Government grew by 1,200 jobs, with local government — up 700 — and state government — up 600 — producing the overall increase. Federal government offset job additions with a loss of 100 jobs. Three other sectors recorded job additions: educational and health services — up 1,000 — trade, transportation, and utilities — up 900 — and information — up 200.

Over the month, professional and business services lost the most jobs, with a decline of 2,500 jobs. The bulk of the loss was in administrative and support and waste management with a loss of 2,100 jobs, followed by professional, scientific, and technical services losing 600, but offset by an increase of 200 jobs in management of companies and enterprises.

Construction fell by 1,200 jobs. Specialty trade contractors lost 600 jobs and accounted for half of the overall decline. Heavy and civil engineering construction — down 400 jobs — and construction of buildings — down 200 — completed the sectoral loss. Manufacturing lost 900 jobs and financial activities lost 600 over the month. Mining and logging and other services remained unchanged.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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