San Diego unemployment rate again hits all-time high, new report shows

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego County’s estimated unemployment rose to a record-high 28.7% this week according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

This follows the previous week’s 26.8% unemployment rate, also a record-high for the region, surpassing both the recession of 2008 and the Great Depression.

“We are now exceeding the numbers we had at the worst part in our history,” SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major said.

Major said part of the reason San Diego’s numbers are so high is because it relies heavily on the tourism industry. Additionally, California as a whole has some of the more stringent stay-at-home orders in the country.

More than 34,000 San Diegans lost their jobs in the week reflected by the data, April 25 to May 2, before Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order to open some industries May 8.

“That’s a huge number,” said Laura Ericson, an unemployed pastry chef. “One in four don’t have a job? When you put it that way, it’s tough. But it makes sense because I’m walking around without a job.”

The skyrocketing unemployment numbers caused by the state’s state-at- home orders have lessened, leading SANDAG economists to believe the worst economic impact of the pandemic could have passed.

“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 next week’s data, the numbers could start dropping in the next few weeks as restrictions are lifted and people get back to work.

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

According to the SANDAG analysis, 490,000 people are out of work in the San Diego region, more than 430,000 of whom lost employment after March 7 — which public health officials have pinpointed as the date the health crisis began locally.

The hardest-hit areas of the county remain central San Diego and ZIP codes near the border, like San Ysidro.

Logan Heights leads the county in unemployment, with more than 42% of residents out of work. Golden Hill, City Heights, the College area and San Ysidro all have more than 34% unemployment and National City has more than 31% unemployed.

A stretch of North County along state Route 78 is also experiencing higher-than-average rates of unemployment, with South Oceanside and Cal State University San Marcos at more than 32% unemployed, and portions of Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad and Oceanside at more than 30%.

Major said he’s hopeful unemployment rates won’t climb past 35%, but says it could be upwards of a couple years before we get below double digits.

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.

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