Unemployment Decreases Slowly as Economists Fear Resurgence of COVID-19

The unemployment rate of 14.8% in the region is still nearly 50% higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession

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Unemployment numbers continue to decrease across San Diego County from a high of 25% in May, according to a report from the San Diego Association of Governments released Thursday.

The region's unemployment rate is estimated to be 14.8%, the SANDAG report found, 1.5% lower than the previous week and 6.4% lower than a month previous.

However, more than 250,000 people are still unemployed in the county, five times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In the week ending June 20, more than 25,000 people are estimated to have returned to work, with 30,000 doing so the week before.

"New weekly unemployment insurance claims in the region have increased over the last week, but the number of people receiving unemployment insurance in the region continues to decline," the report said. "This trend confirms that more people are returning to work than are being laid-off."

SANDAG's data runs on about a two-week delay.

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases after they had appeared to have peaked in late-April is bad news for the economy, SANDAG's economists said.

"In response to COVID-19 cases going up, Governor (Gavin) Newsom and local county officials have reversed some of the reopening plans," the report said. "As of July 1, bars, breweries and wineries that do not serve food have been ordered to close. Although this does not represent a large percentage of the San Diego regional workforce, it communicates that reopening the economy will take longer than first anticipated."

The report also notes that people may be less likely to spend when cases rise, as consumer confidence drops -- particularly in "high-contact" jobs where customers and employees interact in close proximity.

The unemployment rate of 14.8% in the region is still nearly 50% higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession -- 10.8% in 2009 -- which signals that there is still a long way to go to return to the unemployment levels recorded in March 2020, before the start of the public health crisis.

The most affected ZIP Codes remain those in the southern and central part of the region. The five ZIP Codes still experiencing the highest unemployment rates are Encanto, College Area, City Heights, San Ysidro and Logan Heights. Only Logan Heights has an average unemployment rate over 20%.

The five ZIP Codes with lowest unemployment rates are Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Chula Vista NE and Rancho Bernardo W. These areas have an average unemployment rate of just over 10%.

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