Fresno County's unemployment rate remains at 10 percent

Experts say the biggest job losses were in the leisure and hospitality sector.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the second straight month, the unemployment rate in Fresno County remained steady at 10% and slightly lower than last year's annual average of 11.3%, according to figures just released by California's Employment Development Department (EDD).

"This is usually when we see the peak in regards to the highest unemployment rates. January, February, March is usually when it peaks and part of that is when agriculture slows down, construction slows down and retail normally slows down," says labor market consultant Steven Gutierrez.

Experts say the biggest losses were in the leisure and hospitality sector.

Restaurants and hotels continue to be among the hardest hit by public health orders restricting travel and dining.

Nearly 800,000 jobs have been lost statewide since January 2020.

"Whether or not people will be willing to go out again to movie theaters like we did prior, going out to entertainment places, remains to be seen," says Gutierrez.

The new job numbers are based on surveys conducted in mid-January when the state was averaging more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases per day and hospitals were near full capacity across much of the state, including the San Joaquin Valley.

Since then, cases and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically and the state is beginning to loosen restrictions.

Despite the optimism, long lines of residents at food banks remain a constant in Central California.

"We've seen an increase of more vehicles and more families that come through," says Erwin Garrido with Reading and Beyond.

Experts predict California's recovery will be gradual as the state works to get more residents vaccinated, along with the impact from President Joe Biden's newly signed $1.9 trillion federal relief package.

An economic outlook group, the UCLA Anderson Forecast, is predicting that California's unemployment rate will dip to 7.7% for the first quarter of this year.
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