Local labor numbers continue to drag on economy

L.A. County among worst in state, Ventura County not so bad

Stenslie is president/ CEO of the Economic Development Collaborative.

Stenslie is president/ CEO of the Economic Development Collaborative.

The California Labor Market Information Division released its September 2020 report recently, confirming reports that the economy remains deeply stalled.

The Ventura County unemployment rate improved very little, from 8.7% in August to 8.4% in September.

Lack of job opportunity

Ventura County businesses in September managed to add back only 2,600 jobs in September. There are 34,000 officially unemployed workers in Ventura County, barely improved from 35,300 a month ago and a long way from the only 14,000 a year ago.

The county’s labor force of 407,300 is the lowest it’s been since 2003, figures show.

The massive amount of lost earnings have only partially been replaced by unemployment insurance. In addition, the extra unemployment benefits from the federal government have been exhausted, leaving many unemployed workers in the lurch.

Industry employment

The gains in September were concentrated in only a couple of major industry sectors:

Private education and health services continued its monthly ups and downs, up this month by 1,000 jobs, though still down 700 year-over-year.

The good news is that health services is down only 1.4% since a year ago. Along with professional and business services, this is one of the two strongest recovering major sectors.

Local government education continued a steady trend toward recovery, gaining 1,600 jobs in September jobs but still down 2,800 year-over-year.

The good news is that as Ventura County continues to move in the right direction on health outcomes, cities are getting closer to re-opening schools and recovering those jobs.

Other factors also offer a glimmer of hope:

The farm sector gained 200 jobs, but its overall condition remains worrisome, down 2,800 jobs year-over-year.

Manufacturing gained 100 jobs, down 1,700 year-over-year.

Retail trade gained 200 jobs, but is down 5,000 year-over-year.

Retail has perhaps the most to gain as the county moved into the improved red tier in the state’s risk assessment system.

The retail sector reports only 50% building occupancy/

Leisure and hospitality gained just 200 jobs, still down 7,200 jobs year-over-year.

Professional and business services continued their relatively strong performance, adding 200 jobs, now down only 200 jobs year-over-year.

Unlike the higher risk environments of retail and hospitality, the technology and financial sector offers jobs that can be conducted remotely or in controlled offices.

No single major sector lost more than 200 jobs in September; construction and financial activities both lost 200.

Statewide perspective

Ventura County gained back four slots in September and now ranks 25th in unemployment among California’s 58 counties.

Looking regionally, Santa Barbara County remained in 14th, now at 7.4%. San Luis Obispo improved from 13th to 10th, now at 7.2%. Los Angeles County remained 57th at 15.1%. Kern fell one slot to 56th, at 12.4%.

Most of the top performing counties are small and remote.

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