The unemployment rate in San Diego County decreased to 7.2% in February, down from a revised 8% in January but well above the year-ago, pre-pandemic rate of 3.2%, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
The job gains were particularly strong in the restaurant industry, which had been hard hit while San Diego County was in the purple tier of infection.
“The nearly 13,000 jump in leisure and hospitality positions was an especially welcome relief as this sector has seen so many of its doors closed,” said Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University.
Between January and February, nonfarm employment in San Diego County increased by 31,900, from 1,351,600 to 1,383,500, and agricultural employment increased by 500, from 8,400 to 8,900.
Leisure and hospitality led all month-over increases with 12,800 jobs added. Of those, 97% were in accommodation and food services — up 12,400 jobs. Arts, entertainment and recreation added 400 jobs.
Professional and business services added 6,800 jobs. Administrative and support and waste management led sector increases by 5,000 jobs.
A half-dozen other sectors notched month-over additions, including other services, up 4,100; construction, up 4,100 jobs; manufacturing, up 2,000 jobs; government, up 1,600 jobs; educational and health services, up 400 jobs; and financial activities, up 200 jobs.
Trade, transportation and utilities posted the only month-over job losses, shedding 100 positions. Information and mining and logging remained unchanged.
Phil Blair, executive officer of Manpower West, said the job gains could be even higher if workers were available for various positions.
“The quandary in this high unemployment market is the thousands of jobs that are sitting unfilled, hampering San Diego’s economic growth,” he said.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.5% in February, down from 9% in January, but also well above the 4.3% rate from February 2020. The comparable estimates for the nation were 6.2% in February, 6.3% in January and 3.5% in February 2020.
City News Service contributed to this report.