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San Diego Unemployment Drops To 9% In September, Region Gains 11,700 Jobs

A client walks out of San Diego County's unemployment office in this undated ...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A client walks out of San Diego County's unemployment office in this undated photo.

The San Diego region's unemployment rate declined to 9% in September, a half-percent drop from the previous month, according to figures released today by the state Employment Development Department.

According to the EDD, total non-farm employment in San Diego County increased by 11,700 jobs month-over-month — from 1,372,900 to 1,384,600 — while farm employment remained unchanged at 9,600.

The unemployment rate at this time last year was 2.9%. The region lost 117,700 non-farm jobs and 500 agricultural jobs over the year.

According to the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the unemployment numbers are skewed by a large number of San Diegans who have dropped out of the workforce altogether.

Whether taking care of aging parents, helping children with school as distance learning continues or concerns over contracting the virus at work, as many as 30,000 people have dropped out of the workforce since February. Unemployment rates typically only count people who are actively looking for work, so these people may not be factored into economic recovery data.

"While there are lots of production jobs available, San Diegans are still hesitant to go back to work," said Mel Katz, executive officer of Manpower West. "We are seeing hourly wages increasing by two or more dollars per hour to entice workers to leave home and enter the workforce."

The region's unemployment rate rose to 15% in May during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to EDD data, while data from the San Diego Association of Governments showed rates of nearly 30% unemployment in May.

In September, the state's unemployment rate dropped to 10.8% from 11.6% the previous month, and the nation's decreased to 7.7% from 8.5%.

Government jobs led in local monthly gains, with 6,800 jobs added to the region's total. Leisure and hospitality gained 2,500 jobs; educational and health services 2,400; trade, transportation and utilities 1,400; other services 1,100; and professional and business services gained 100.

Construction posted the most job losses, with 1,400. Manufacturing lost 900, financial activities 200 and information posted a loss of 100 jobs.

Comparing year-over-year, leisure and hospitality continue to top the list in jobs lost, with a total of 52,400 jobs lost since last September — 38,400 of which came in accommodation and food services.

Since the same time last year, government lost 14,200 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities 13,900; educational and health services 10,600; other services 10,300; manufacturing 6,500; construction 4,400; information 3,500; and financial activities 3,400.

Professional and business was the sole industry to post job gains year- over-year, with 1,500 new jobs.

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