California’s unemployment rate ticked down last month as the state slowly recouped some of its lost jobs, even as the state continued to rack up coronavirus cases.
September joblessness was 11%, down from 11.2% in August, state officials reported Friday. That compares with just 3.9% in September of last year.
California has regained just 38% of the 2.6 million jobs lost in March and April as the pandemic devastated the economy. In September, payrolls grew by 96,000 non-farm jobs to 15.98 million, below August’s gain of 113,800. A year earlier, the state counted 17.41 million non-farm jobs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to spread across California, with experts saying the true number of people infected is unknown and likely much higher than official tallies. Confirmed cases statewide since the start of the outbreak topped 863,000 as of Friday morning. The death toll exceeded 16,800.
Many businesses remain closed, and economists warn the job market will not strongly recover until the virus is under control.
Seven of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Leisure and hospitality had the largest gain: 48,400, mainly in hotels and restaurants, some of which have set up outdoor dining and stepped up deliveries. The sector had seen the largest month-over-month loss in August.
But many entertainment venues have yet to reopen. Walt Disney Co. announced in September that it would lay off 28,000 U.S. workers, largely at its theme parks, cruise line and retail stores.
Government jobs posted the largest September decline: 14,300 positions, mainly due to losses in federal census worker employment.
The September jobs report is based on two surveys, one of households and the other of businesses, conducted during the week of Sept. 12.
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