Gains in all but a couple of sectors of the regional economy pushed Riverside County’s unemployment rate down to 5.4% last month, the lowest point in the last 20 months, according to figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department.

The jobless rate in November, based on preliminary EDD estimates, was almost a full percentage point lower than in October, when the rate stood at 6.3%.

The November rate was over two percentage points lower than the year-ago level, when countywide unemployment was 7.7%, amid the coronavirus public health lockdowns.

The last time unemployment was at or near 5% in Riverside County occurred in March 2020, when it was 4.7%, prior to the lockdowns.

About 61,000 residents were recorded as out of work last month, and 1,070,000 were employed, according to EDD.

Coachella had the highest unemployment rate countywide in December at 12.7%, followed by Mecca at 8.6%, Winchester at 8.1%, Hemet at 8% and the unincorporated community of East Hemet at 7.8%

The combined unemployment rate for Riverside and San Bernardino counties in November was also 5.4%, down from 6.3% in October, according to figures.

Bi-county data indicated payrolls expanded by the widest margin in trade, transportation and utilities, which netted an increase of 12,600 positions, primarily in retail trade, as outlets ramped up hiring for the Holiday Season.

The agricultural, financial services, health services, hospitality, manufacturing and public sectors altogether added 5,700 jobs, while miscellaneous unclassified industries posted a gain of 700 positions, and the information technology sector was unchanged.

Payrolls in the construction and professional business services sectors declined by an aggregate 2,700 jobs, data showed.

EDD said the statewide non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate last month was, like the Inland Empire, 5.4%.

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