County unemployment drops to 6.6% as hiring surges

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Employers in San Bernardino County hired more than 11,000 workers in September as the labor market reached its strongest level since before the COVID-19 pandemic, new numbers from the state Employment Development Department (EDD) show.

The monthly jobs report, released Friday, showed San Bernardino County’s unemployment rate dropping a full percentage point – to 6.6% – while the number of jobs jumped from 902,900 in August to 914,000 in September. Unemployment in the county is now at its lowest level since March 2020, when 4.4% of the labor pool was out of work. It quickly rose to 14.2% in April 2020 as a result of COVID-related work stoppages.

Statewide, the unemployment rate remained unchanged between August and September – at 7.5%.

“The latest job numbers reinforce the strength of the San Bernardino County economy heading out of the pandemic. We have truly become one of the fastest-growing population, business and employment centers in the U.S., with a robust labor pool to meet the needs of employers and support continued expansion well into the future,” said Curt Hagman, Chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Phil Cothran, Chairman of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB), noted that the county has now recovered 86% of jobs lost during the early months of the pandemic – well above the state average of 63%.

“We are a destination for workers and businesses, and are in a unique position to create broad economic prosperity in what is a fiercely competitive marketplace. Through our America’s Job Centers of California and the support of our Business Services team, WDB plays a critical role in driving that growth and creating new opportunities for our residents and employers,” Cothran said.

Although the EDD report does not offer a breakdown, by industry, for San Bernardino County specifically, an analysis of hiring throughout the Inland Empire showed supply chain-related jobs accounting for the largest increase during September – up 5,200 positions. Government (up 2,400 jobs), manufacturing (up 700) and professional and business services (up 100) also posted increases.

“We’re seeing broad gains in hiring activity, which speaks to the strength of our San Bernardino County market but also the quality of our workforce. This is reason for added optimism heading into the critical holiday season,” said Brad Gates, WDB Interim Executive Director.