Despite major improvement, county unemployment at higher rate than in Great Recession

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The estimated unemployment rate in San Diego County has fallen nearly 11 points lower than its peak in May, but the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been so severe that joblessness remains higher than at the peak of the Great Recession.

The new numbers, underlining the county’s steady recovery but also how far the region still has to go, come from a report released Wednesday by the San Diego Association of Governments found.

Unemployment has slowly but fairly consistently declined from the high of 25% the week of May 9, with a noticeable spike from 15.1% to 17.4% in early July in part due to closure of indoor businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the region has recovered somewhat from those closure orders, the 14.2% figure SANDAG reported Wednesday is nearly 4 points higher than at the height of the Great Recession in 2009-10.

That unemployment rate includes an estimated 242,000 workers, compared to the approximately 50,000 people out of work — or 3.1% — before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hardest-ht ZIP codes largely remain unchanged from previous reports, with San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood topping of the list at 18.9% unemployed. Neighborhoods such as Golden Hill, City Heights, the College area and San Ysidro, as well as portions of Vista, Oceanside, Escondido and National City all reported unemployment rates of 15.7% or higher.

These estimates are based on unemployment insurance claims, unemployment insurance payments and unemployment statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Experts predict it will take some time for the unemployment rate to return to pre-COVID rates, especially if a full reopening of the economy continues to be delayed for public health reasons,” SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major wrote.

The ZIP codes least affected, with unemployment rates just under 12%, are Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Chula Vista NE, and Rancho Bernardo W.

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