The unemployment rate in Riverside County shot above 5% last month — for the first time in over two years — amid layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic, figures released Friday show.
The region’s jobless rate in March, based on preliminary estimates, was 5.3%, compared to 4.1% in February, according to the California Employment Development Department.
The rate was nearly a full percentage point higher than the year-ago level, when countywide unemployment stood at 4.4%.
The last time the jobless rate topped 5% in the county was in September 2017, when it was 5.2%, according to EDD data. From there, it commenced a steady decline.
Roughly 58,000 residents were out of work in March, and 1,041,000 were employed, according to the EDD.
The jump in unemployment claims countywide coincided with a wave of increases throughout the country, with 22 million jobless filings in the last four weeks, as businesses rolled back or shuttered operations because of COVID-19 mitigation measures, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Locally, Coachella had the highest unemployment rate countywide at 11.6%, followed by the unincorporated community of East Hemet at 8.2%, with the unincorporated communities of Highgrove and Lakeland Village both coming in just behind at 8.1%.
The combined unemployment rate for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in March was 5.1%, up from 4% in February.
Bi-county data indicated payrolls shrank by the widest margin last month — 3,300 — in the leisure and hospitality industry. Additional losses were recorded in the business services, retail trade and construction sectors, which altogether shed 6,100 jobs. Miscellaneous unclassified industries contracted by about 800 positions, according to the EDD.
Payrolls expanded in the public sector, which added 2,700 positions, mostly in schools, with the agricultural, health services, financial services and manufacturing sectors altogether expanding by 3,200 jobs.
The EDD said that the state’s jobless rate in March was 5.6%.