California’s unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percentage points to 8.5% in February, as the state’s employers gained 141,000 jobs, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.
Locally, the unemployment rate in Santa Barbara County was 7.1% in February, down from a revised 7.8% in January. The February unemployment numbers were released after January’s downward-revised month-over loss of 80,000 jobs. December and January combined for a two-month total of 155,400 jobs lost, but February’s gain recovered nearly 91% of that loss, according to the EDD Labor Market Information Division.
Overall, California has now regained nearly 39% of the 2.7 million total nonfarm jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Santa Barbara County’s unemployment rate, which trended below 6% from December 2018 to February 2020, spiked to nearly 14% in April of 2020. The county’s unemployment rate has steadily dropped over the past 10 months.
Santa Barbara County has a labor force of 214,600, with 199,300 people employed and 15,300 unemployed.
Compared to other local counties, Ventura County had an unemployment rate of 6.8% for February, while San Luis Obispo County had an unemployment rate of 6.3%.
In total, Santa Barbara County gained an estimated 3,500 jobs from January to February. This includes an estimated gain of 1,800 farm jobs and 1,700 nonfarm jobs.
The county’s labor force increased by 3,700 (up 1.8%) from January. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector saw the largest employment increase over the month, adding 2,200 jobs. Educational and Health Services added an estimated 300 jobs and manufacturing added 100 jobs.
Month-over job losses were also noted in the the professional and business services sector (down 500), as well as the trade, transportation and utilities sector (down 400). The sectors of mining, logging and construction, construction and financial activities also each saw a decrease of 100 jobs.
Broken down further, leisure and hospitality jobs were down 31.7% from a year ago, arts, entertainment and recreation jobs were down 47.4%, and accommodation jobs were down 49.2% over the past year.
The data released Friday by the EDD was based on two surveys. Total nonfarm jobs in California’s 11 major industries totaled 15,998,900 in February, a net gain of 141,000 jobs from January. Total nonfarm jobs decreased by 1,662,000 (a 9.4% decrease) from February 2020 to February 2021 compared to the U.S. annual loss of 9,475,000 jobs (a 6.2% decrease).
Seven of the state’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Leisure and hospitality had the state’s largest month-over increase, of 102,200. Other services had the second-largest month-over increase, of 14,100, and education and health services also experienced a 13,000 month-over increase. Other month-over increases were noted in manufacturing (up 8,900), trade, transportation and utilities (up 8,200), professional and business services (up 5,400) and construction (up 600).
Government suffered the largest month-over loss, down 6,000. Information jobs were down 2,800, financial activities down 1,900 and mining and logging was down 700.
The number of jobs in the agriculture industry increased by 2,900 from January to 423,100 jobs in February. The agriculture industry had 2,300 more farm jobs in February 2021 compared to a year ago.
The number of Californians with jobs in February was 17,334,300, an increase of 345,600 jbos from January’s total of 16,988,700, but down 1,253,500 from the employment total in February 2020. The number of unemployed Californians was 1,610,200 in February, a decrease of 69,600 over the month, but up by 764,900 in comparison to February 2020.
There were 794,348 people certifying for unemployment insurance benefits during the February 2021 sample week. That compares to 818,589 people in January and 351,766 people in February 2020. Concurrently, 90,662 initial claims were processed in the February 2021 sample week, which was a month-over increase of 32,285 claims from January, as well as a year-over increase of 55,533 claims from February 2020.
Data for March 2021 will be released on April 16. For more information on Santa Barbara County and state unemployment figures, visit www.edd.ca.gov.