published on January 22, 2021 - 11:32 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

When it comes to Central Valley unemployment in Covid-stricken 2020, it looked a lot like 2014.

The state Employment Development Department released its jobless numbers for December 2020, which offer a look at the average unemployment rate for the entire year rocked by a cycle of business shutdowns related to the coronavirus.

In three out of four Central Valley counties — Fresno, Kings and Madera — annual unemployment reached six-year highs that closed nearly a decade of job growth after the Great Recession.

Fresno County’s average unemployment rate for 2020 was 11.3%. That represents a six-year record, as the last time the unemployment rate was that high was 2014 with 11.6% as the region recovered from the Great Recession.

Fresno County’s highest recorded unemployment rate was 16.7% in 2010. It had fallen every year to the record low of 7.2% in 2019.

Kings County’s unemployment rate last year was 11.7%, also the highest since 2014. Kings County saw an unemployment rate of 7.9% in 2019.

The 2020 unemployment rate for Madera County was 10.8%, which was also the highest since 2014. The rate in that county in 2019 was 6.9%.

Tulare County’s unemployment rate for 2020 was 13.6% — the highest rate seen in that county since 2013. Tulare County’s unemployment rate for 2019 was 9.6%.

For the Central Valley, December 2020 also marked an uptick in jobless rates to close out the year. Fresno County’s unemployment rate last month was 10.4%, up from 8.5% in November. The largest month-over job losses were seen in leisure and hospitality (10,200); trade, transportation and utilities (3,800); and government (3,700).

Kings County’s unemployment rate last month was 11%, up from 8.8% in November.

Madera County reported a December 2020 unemployment rate of 9.9%, up from 8.1% the month prior.

In Tulare County, the unemployment rate hit 11.8% in December 2020, up from 9.7% in November.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 9% in December 2020, up from 8.1% the month prior, and well above 3.9% in December 2019. Despite December’s losses, California has regained more than 44% of the 2,615,800 nonfarm jobs that were lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March and April, according to the EDD.

Dee Dee Myers, the new director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su released the following joint statement about the data release:

“Nearly a year ago, California was experiencing record-long job growth and record-low unemployment. The numbers we see today reflect the challenges we’ve faced and the work that needs to be done — as a state, as a country, and as individuals. Throughout this pandemic, Californians have stepped up; whether it be small businesses protecting their employees and customers, manufacturing companies pivoting to make PPE, essential workers continuing their critical activities to keep us all healthy, fed, and safe, or neighbors checking on neighbors. It’s crucial that we do everything we can to ensure that Californians can get back to work safely. By doing what we can to step up and protect one another, we can and will rebuild our economy, our state, and our nation.”

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