San Luis Obispo County’s labor market strengthened in February as employers added 1,000 jobs, dropping the unemployment rate to 6.3% from 6.9% in January, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
Employment numbers are making a comeback as COVID-19 vaccines are broadly distributed and economic activity picks up, but have not reached last fall’s numbers. In December, California’s shelter at home order drove the county’s unemployment rate up to 6.7% from 5.5% in November.
Jobs in hospitality and state education took the biggest hits during the coronavirus pandemic, and appear to be the slowest to recover. Compared to a year ago, 37% fewer people are employed in the motel industry and another 31% fewer people work in restaurants.
In addition, 1,600 fewer SLO County residents are employed in the state education sector, a loss of 29% of those jobs.
The number of people currently working in the wholesale industry is back to pre-pandemic numbers while retail trade employment is down only 300 jobs from a year ago, or 2%.
San Luis Obispo County is ranked sixth out of 58 California counties for lower numbers of unemployed workers. SLO County’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 6.6% and the state’s 8.4% rate.