(The Center Square) – The California economy, the biggest in the U.S., lost 69,900 nonfarm payroll jobs in January. The Golden State’s unemployment rate dropped from a revised 9.3% in December to January’s 9%.

“California has regained more than 39% of the upwards-revised 2,714,800 nonfarm jobs that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic in March and April 2020,” according to a state Employment Development Department news release. California’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in January 2020, before COVID-19 restrictions, including a shelter-at-home mandate, to slow the spread of the pandemic under Democratic Gov. Newsom. 

An effort to recall the governor is ongoing.

Meanwhile, in January and December, six of California’s 11 industry sectors added payroll jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities led the way with 13,700 new hires in January. Government and professional and business services added 3,600 jobs in January.

The leisure and hospitality sector experienced 70,600 job losses in January and 799,400 for the past year. Government-mandated closures of accommodation and food services firms have slammed employment for in-person dining, according to the California Employment Development Department.

Statewide, financial activities gained 600 jobs in January, while losing 36,800 positions over the past year. Information employment gained 600 new hires in January but declined 53,700 jobs during the past year.

There were 17,620,800 employed Californians in January 2020 compared with 15,937,900 in December 2020. In January 2021, there were 15,868,000 Californians employed, according to the state EDD.

The state’s nonfarm payroll job numbers come from a federal survey of 80,000 California businesses.

It is unclear when the pandemic recession will end in the Golden State, the nation’s most populous. Newsom’s proposed budget for 2021-22 projects, “In California, the state is not expected to return to the overall level of 2019 jobs until 2025. Businesses are expected to continue to operate at limited capacity into 2021. Increased automation and a shift to online retailing will lead to permanent job declines in leisure and hospitality, retail, and other services.”

Since the pandemic recession began, the state EDD handled about 20.9 million claims for unemployment insurance, according to a news release, paying $127.8 billion in benefits. That total is over five times the dollar amount distributed in the Great Recession that ended in mid-2009.