County unemployment numbers pass Great Depression levels, SANDAG report finds

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego region’s estimated unemployment rate has risen to 26.8% amid the coronavirus pandemic, a high not seen since the Great Depression, according to a report released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

The report was prepared with data from April 18-25, before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order to open some retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses this Friday.

“The phased reopening may signal that the pandemic curve is flattening, and economic improvement may occur in the next few weeks,” the report reads.

Although the number of unemployed is likely to increase with the next two weeks’ data, SANDAG’s chief economist, Ray Major, said the numbers could start dropping by May 11 as people get back to work.

On March 7, the unemployment rate in the county was 3.4%.

According to the SANDAG analysis, 450,000 people are out of work in the San Diego region, more than 400,000 of whom lost employment after March 7 — which public health officials have pinpointed as the date the health crisis began locally.

A few ZIP codes are seeing a more significant impact. Logan Heights leads the county in unemployment, with 37.5% of residents out of work. Golden Hill, City Heights, the College area and San Ysidro all have more than 32% unemployment and National City has more than 31% unemployed.

“Combined, these six ZIP codes total about 53,000 unemployed residents, compared to 52,000 countywide before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report states.

The industries most severely impacted by COVID-19 and various stay-at- home and social distancing orders associated with the pandemic include ones in which close contact is required, such as hotel, restaurant, personal care, transportation and entertainment jobs.

ZIP codes with a higher percentage of office workers who can work from home are less severely impacted by unemployment. Those areas include West Rancho Bernardo, Eastlake, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Sorrento Valley and Scripps Ranch — all of which have 22% or less unemployment.

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