Half a Million San Diegans Are Unemployed

Unemployment figures paint bleak picture in San Diego

Spencer Platt

Federal officials announced Thursday that another 2.4 million Americans were added to the unemployment rolls last week, bringing the total to nearly 40 million people since the pandemic hit, with 25 million still claiming benefits.

That puts the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent nationally, a horrible figure, but one that falls short of the high of 24.9 percent during the Great Depression.

Locally, the percentage is much worse than even that -- it currently stands at more than double the national average, at 30.1 percent, according to a report released Thursday by SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments. That's an increase of 1.4 percent since the prior week.

Overall, more than 510,000 county residents are unemployed, with all but 50,000 of them having lost their jobs since March 7.

Joblessness is concentrated in some neighborhoods to a striking degree -- the community feeling the effects worst in the county is Logan Heights, where SANDAG estimates that nearly 42 percent of workers have lost their jobs. In North County, the estimated unemployment rate is 34 percent in south Oceanside.

While there are no bright spots in the county, unemployment-wise, some communities are faring better, such as parts of Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo, where roughly 24 percent of the neighborhood residents are out of a job.

Officials theorize that the length of the lockdown is now exacerbating an increasingly difficult situation, prompting businesses to declare bankruptcy or make the decision to permanently close. Looking ahead, however, the authors of SANDAG's report speculate that people will begin returning to work as the county moves into Phase 2 -- reopening, at least partially, restaurants and some retail business -- and then, hopefully, moving into Phase 3, when salons, gyms and other businesses will come back online.

Unemployment overall in California is bleak as well, of course -- with 5.1 million claims processed since the pandemic surge began the week ending March 14. Officials with the state's Employment Development Department said Thursday that California had paid out $16.1 billion in unemployment benefits since that date.

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