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By Shawn Raymundo
Unemployment in the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano continued to fall in October, with the jobless rate inching closer to pre-pandemic levels.
Among the three towns, unemployment dropped from 4.4% in September to just above 4% the following month, according to the latest jobs data that the state’s Employment Development Department released on Nov. 19.
Orange County as a whole also continued to see an overall decline in unemployment, which sat at 4.7% in October, down from the 5% reported the month before. The statewide unemployment rate saw a slight downtick in the same period, sliding from 7.5% to 7.3%.
Though the state’s unemployment has more room to drop before matching the 4.2% average jobless rate in 2019, the latest figure shows unemployment’s steady decline from the 9.8% reported in October 2020.
“Thanks to October’s job growth, the state has now regained 1,828,500, or 67.4%, of the 2,714,800 jobs that were lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the state’s employment office said.
According to the jobs report, California payroll jobs grew to roughly 16.77 million, an increase of about 96,800 nonfarm jobs from the month prior. Much of those jobs gains was seen in the professional and business services sector and the leisure and hospitality industry.
Based on a review of employment data since this past January, when countywide unemployment was 7.4%, the county’s labor force—the number of residents working, regardless of location—has gradually increased, rising from just shy of 1.52 million workers to nearly 1.59 million in October.
In 2019, the county’s average labor force was just above 1.62 million. Residents of the three South County towns made up 68,100 of that average workforce in the year before the pandemic, according to the labor data.
For the month of October, the three towns had a combined labor force of 66,300, with 2,700 out of work, down from the 4,400 jobless number reported in January, when the average unemployment rate here was 7%.
Since January, San Juan Capistrano has been able to nearly cut its unemployment rate in half, dropping from 6.4% to 3.6% in October, according to the state’s jobs data. San Clemente’s also seen a steep decline since the start of the year, as unemployment decreased from 7.2% to 4.1%.
And in Dana Point, the jobless rate for October was reported at 4.4%, down from the 6.8% the city was experiencing at the top of 2021.
The state’s jobs report for the month of November is scheduled to be released on Dec. 17.
Shawn Raymundo is the managing editor for Picket Fence Media. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.