Restaurant dining rooms haven't been as hopping as in this 2018 file photo of the Clovis Cool Hand Luke's. But hospitality did account for job gains last month.

published on July 17, 2020 - 10:54 AM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

Jobless numbers continued to shrink in the Central Valley last month, led by a resurgent leisure and hospitality sector before coronavirus restrictions were tightened.

The latest data from the state Employment Development Department shows that leisure and hospitality businesses — lodging, food services, events, tourism, etc. — added 5,900 jobs in Fresno County last month. Accommodation and food services accounted for 76% of those gains, which were the largest of any sector.

Fresno County’s unemployment rate for June was 14.6%, down from a revised 15.5% in May. The rate was still significantly higher than the year-ago estimate of 7%.

Other sectors that showed month-over gains included trade, transportation and utilities with 2,500 jobs, with retail trade accounting for 2,000 of those positions. Professional and businesses services also climbed by 1,600 jobs, while manufacturing added 600 jobs last month.

Government employment was the big loser, dropping by 2,700 jobs compared to May. State and local government split that decline nearly equally.

Comparing last month to June 2019, leisure and hospitality saw the largest decline of 10,900 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities lost 6,800 jobs, while government cut back 4,400 positions.

The gains in employment in the leisure and hospitality sector came as restaurants and bars serving food in the Golden State began to reopen dine-in with the release of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines in mid May. Fresno County restaurants got the OK to reopen on May 21.

Ahead of the July 4 holiday, Gov. Newsom decided to close dining rooms once again in areas seeing spikes in Covid-19 cases, extending that restriction statewide on July 13.

Rosendo Flores, a local employment analyst with the Employment Development Department, noted in a voicemail that leisure and hospitality lost the bulk of jobs in April as shelter-in-place orders came down, but did regain workers as orders were relaxed in May and June.

“With the restrictions in place once again, we will need to wait and see what the numbers say in July,” he said.

Kings County’s unemployment rate for June was also 14.6%, down from a revised 15.6% in May and above 7.9% last year.

Leisure and hospitality also had the biggest month-over gains, adding 600 jobs. Manufacturing in Kings County shed 300 jobs in the same period.

Year-over-year, leisure and hospitality lost 900 jobs, and government shed 1,200 jobs.

Madera County saw an unemployment rate of 14.1% in June, down from a revised 15.1% in May and above 6.8% a year ago.

Madera County government saw the largest decrease in jobs month-over-month with 700.

On an annual basis, leisure and hospitality lost 1,200 jobs and government shed 1,100 jobs. Educational and health services also lost 700 positions.

Tulare County reported an unemployment rate of 17.2% for June, down from a revised 18.2% in May and above 9.1% last year.

Leisure and hospitality also had a big resurgence in Tulare County, adding 2,200 jobs between May and June. Trade, transportation and utilities added 900 jobs in that period, along with a gain of 700 jobs in educational and health services.

Year-over-year, educational and health services lost the most positions with 2,300, followed by government and leisure and hospitality with 1,700 jobs each and professional and business services with 1,400 positions.

Paul Saldana, president and CEO of the Tulare County Economic Development Corp., issued the following statement.

“Today’s release that the local unemployment rate decreased in June was anticipated as a result of the gradual reopening of our economy. The addition of jobs in leisure, hospitality and other non-farm related industries is a demonstration that our economic recovery is well underway. We continue to be optimistic that the resilience of the local economy will contribute to the restoration of job reductions as a result of the pandemic.”

Fresno, Kings and Madera counties all reported unemployment rates for June that were lower than the state’s 14.9%. That rate was lower than 16.4% for California reported in May.

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