Payroll gains across most sectors of the regional economy pushed Riverside County’s unemployment rate down to 5.1% last month, according to figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.

The jobless rate in December, based on preliminary EDD estimates, was three-tenths of a percentage point lower than in November, when the rate stood at 5.4%.

The December rate was almost four percentage points lower than the year-ago level, when countywide unemployment was 8.7%, amid the statewide coronavirus public health lockdowns.

About 57,500 county residents were recorded as out of work last month, and 1,071,600 were employed, according to EDD.

Coachella had the highest unemployment rate countywide in December at 11.8%, followed by Mecca at 8.1%, Hemet at 7.9%, Winchester at 7.6% and the unincorporated community of East Hemet at 7.4%.

The combined unemployment rate for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in December was also 5.1%, down from 5.4% in November, according to figures.

Bi-county data indicated payrolls expanded by the widest margin in trade, transportation and utilities, which netted an increase of 2,900 positions, primarily in the sector’s warehousing segment.

The financial services, hospitality, manufacturing and professional business services sectors altogether added 3,700 jobs, while the agricultural and information technology sectors were unchanged.

Payrolls contracted in the construction, health services and public sectors, as well as miscellaneous unclassified industries, which shed an aggregate 4,300 jobs, data showed.

EDD said that the statewide non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month was 5%.

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