published on May 22, 2020 - 8:57 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The state’s latest unemployment numbers for April offer a first true glimpse at the devastation of Covid-19 on Central Valley employers.

The state Employment Development Department released the April employment numbers Friday morning. Its last release, reflecting March unemployment, was on April 17, and the timing of its surveys meant it just missed the onset of a coronavirus in mid March.

Fresno County’s unemployment rate for April was 16.7%, up from a revised 11% in March and way up from 7.6% in April 2019.

Fresno County saw 76,500 people unemployed in April, compared to 49,600 in March and 34, 100 in April 2019.

The last time Fresno County’s unemployment rate was that high was in March 2012, when 74,300 were out of work.

From March to April, total industry employment fell by 21,500 jobs in Fresno County. Leisure & hospitality took the biggest hit with 10,600 jobs, with hotels and food services accounting for 78% of those losses.

Trade, transportation and utilities saw a loss of 4,100 jobs, with retail trade accounting for 59% of those losses.

Transportation, warehousing, and utilities decreased by 900 jobs and wholesale trade receded by 800 jobs.

Educational and health services posted a drop of 3,200 jobs. Health care and social assistance declined by 2,900 jobs and educational services cut back by 300 jobs.

Madera County’s unemployment rate reached 16.6% last month, up from 10.5% in March and 7.4% last year.

Of the four counties, Tulare County fared the worst in April. With 38,100 unemployed, Tulare County rose saw 19% unemployment, up 5% from March. Unemployment for the same month last year was 9.9%.

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus crisis impacted leisure and hospitality the hardest in Tulare County. Month-over-month, the county lost 3,900 restaurant and hotel jobs. Compared to April 2019, 4,200 jobs were lost. Farm jobs suffered significantly as well. The number of jobs dropped to 27,800 from 38,600 from the same time last year. Farming jobs tend to be seasonal and analysts tend to calculate unemployment numbers using non-farm related figures.

Unemployment in Kings County more than doubled from the same time last year. The state found 9,800 out of work, bringing the rate to 16.8%, up from 12.3% in March.

Across California, employers lost 2,344,700 nonfarm jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to a level never seen since analysts first began gathering data in 1974. In April, an estimated 15.5% of eligible workers found themselves out of work. At the height of the Great Recession, the state only experienced a jobless rate of 12.3%.

It only took two months for the unemployment rate to jump 10%. Every one of California’s 11 industry sectors lost jobs, with leisure and hospitality being impacted most at 866,200, more than doubling trade, transportation and utilities, the second-most affected sector. This sector lost 388,700 jobs.

This story will be updated.

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