The unemployment rate in Riverside County slid for the second consecutive month amid gains in multiple sectors, state officials reported Friday.

The jobless rate in July, based on preliminary estimates, was 13.7%, compared to 14.7% in June, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The July rate was 9 percentage points higher than the year-ago level, when countywide unemployment stood at 4.7%.

The EDD’s online database, which supplies regional metrics that begin in January 1990, indicated that the jobless rate in May was the highest ever documented countywide, a record-setting 15.9%. As with the rest of the nation, the avalanche of unemployment claims was tied to the public health shutdowns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, some sectors of the regional economy have returned to semi-normalcy.

About 150,300 residents were out of work in July, and 947,900 were employed, according to the EDD.

Locally, Desert Hot Springs had the highest unemployment rate countywide at 21.3%, followed by the unincorporated community of East Hemet at 20.3%, and Highgrove at 20.1%.

The combined unemployment rate for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in July was 13.4%, down from 14.3% in June, officials said.

Bi-county data indicated payrolls shrank by the widest margin last month in the public sector, mostly in education, which showed a loss of 16,800 positions. However, most of those were seasonal because of the summer hiatus for K-12 teachers and support staff. Most school districts reopened for the fall term in the last two weeks.

Additional losses were recorded in construction, which shed 1,500 jobs, with another 700 losses in miscellaneous unclassified industries, as well as 200 cuts in the agricultural sector, according to the EDD.

The retail trade sector expanded by the largest amount, adding an estimated 4,200 jobs, while the health services sector swelled by 2,900 positions, and payrolls increased by 1,800 in the professional services sector and 1,100 in hospitality. Gains totaling about 1,000 were recorded in the financial services, information technology and manufacturing sectors.

The state’s jobless rate in July was 13.7%.

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