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California unemployment rate falls below 10% for first time since March, but


California’s unemployment rate dropped to single digits last month, but surging cases of the coronavirus and added restrictions statewide make those gains tenuous.

California employers added 145,500 non-farm payroll jobs last month, dropping the state’s unemployment rate by almost two percentage points to 9.3% compared with September.

The state has regained less than half of the non-farm jobs lost during March and April due to the pandemic, according to the state’s Employment Development Department. This marks the first time since March that California has seen unemployment below 10%.

Most of the state’s industries added jobs last month, with nine of the 11 categories seeing gains.

Government jobs were the notable exception — they dipped by more than 40,000. The state attributed the loss largely to reductions in census staff.

San Francisco’s unemployment rate stood at 6.9% in October, down from 8.4% in September.

Within the Bay Area, San Francisco was just behind San Jose in job gains. San Jose led the region in new jobs for the second straight month and saw pickups in the logistics and transportation industries.

Payrolls there increased by 12,600 jobs last month, while San Francisco hiring increased by 9,300, according to Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development.

Gains in San Francisco are due in part to resilient financial and real estate sectors, according to Robert Eyler, a professor of economics at Sonoma State University and director of the school’s Center for Regional Economic Analysis.

Statewide, the leisure and hospitality sectors brought back the most jobs last month, adding around 66,000 positions. But with many counties moving back to the most restrictive tier of virus prevention, “these gains may be reversed soon,” said Michael Bernick, an attorney with law firm Duane Morris and former head of the EDD, in an email.

“It’s important to keep these one-month improvements in perspective,” said Bank of the West Chief Economist Scott Anderson. With cases of the virus surging across the state, Anderson said the state’s unemployment rate could increase in coming months.

Many of the jobs lost during the pandemic have been in the leisure and hospitality industries. “They’ve still got the target on their back,” Anderson said. He noted that without federal assistance made available earlier in the year, more of those business could go under. “They’re going to feel the brunt of these recent closures and restrictions once again,” he said.

Bernick also pointed to data showing how employment has rebounded for better-paying jobs but is still hugely depressed for people at the lower end of the wage scale.

Unemployment rates down, for now

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October unemployment rate

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