California’s unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in March, a 1.4 percent month-over-month increase that marked the end of 120 consecutive months of job gains dating to the end of the Great Recession.
As bad as those numbers are, they may tell only half the story of how much damage the COVID-19 pandemic has already done to the state’s economy.
Those numbers from the state Employment Development Department are based on surveys that ended March 12. That means any job losses after that date won’t show up in Friday’s jobs report.
All told, California lost 99,500 jobs during the first half of March, and its 1.4 percent jobless increase was the largest month-over-month jump in since 1976. Travel and hospitality posted the largest loss of any sector – 67,200 jobs – the result of so many restaurants, hotels and bars closing.
Government posted the largest gain – 5,200 jobs – most of them in local government, according to the survey.