PacBiz Times: Region’s unemployment rates hit new post-pandemic lows

The unemployment rate in the tri-county region dipped to 3.4% in March, its lowest by a comfortable margin since before the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to data released April 15 by the California Employment Development Department.

The unemployment rate in March was 3.5% in Ventura County, down from 4.1% the month before. It was also 3.5% in Santa Barbara County in March, down from 4.3% in February. In San Luis Obispo County, the unemployment rate in March was just 2.8%, down from 3.3% in February.

In all three counties, unemployment in March was lower than it has been since 2019. And though the region still has fewer jobs than before the pandemic began, the improvement from February to March reflected month-to-month growth in the labor force in each county, as well as increases in the number of employed people and declines in the number of unemployed people. In all three counties, the number of unemployed people in March was about half of the total from one year earlier.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 4.9% in March, down from 5.3% in February. The state added 62,600 nonfarm payroll jobs from the previous month and now regained about 90% of the 2.8 million jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic.

The jobs report for March was the first one since February 2020 in which California had fewer than 1 million unemployed people. Every sector of California’s economic gained jobs between February and March, led by leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and education and health care.