Unemployment rates soar in Central California due to COVID-19

More than 40 states have reported record high rates of unemployment, according to the latest data.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020
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Unemployment rates soar in Central California

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Fresno County moves fully into Phase 2 of opening, restaurants like Jack's Urban Eats in Fresno's Fig Garden Village are gearing up to open their dining rooms.

The restaurant has made several modifications, including spaced out patio dining and social distancing markers for the line.

"There's a huge number of regulars that we have that we see on a daily weekly basis, and its starting to pick back up, they're starting to feel more comfortable," says co-owner Ryan Hall.

Hall says they closed for six weeks during the pandemic but, thankfully, he was able to get all of his employees back on the schedule.

"I did urge them to file for unemployment as quickly as possible not knowing what the outcome was going to be in all of this we wanted to make sure they were being taken care of," he says.

Though Hall is optimistic about the future, getting business back to where it was pre-pandemic will take time.

Unemployment rates across the nation have surged, with more than 40 states setting record highs.

That's according to the most recent April numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most employees returning to the workforce with fewer hours can be reassured that it will not impact unemployment benefits.

"It's possible for them to be working part-time and receiving unemployment benefits but once again it depends on their gross wages per week and what they report," says labor market consultant Steven Gutierrez.

Across Central California, unemployment is on the rise. At the top of the list is Tulare County at 19%, with the rest not far behind.

Fresno County's unemployment rate is up 5% from March and the total number of jobs decreased by 21,500.

On the other hand, in agriculture and farming, there's a more than 19% increase in employment.

Farm employment rose by 6,600 jobs, but that's a normal seasonal increase as several crops are in harvest.

"Leisure and hospitality reported the largest month over decrease of 10,600 jobs. Trade transportation and utilities reported a loss of 4,100 jobs. Educational and health services hosted a drop of 3,200," says Gutierrez.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus