San Diego County’s unemployment rate rose to 15 percent in April, the highest on record with data dating back to 1990, state labor officials said Friday.

The early job losses related to the closure by covid-19 were the hardest, especially in leisure and hospitality, where nearly 100,000 jobs were lost, but the cuts were felt in all sectors of the local economy, including those that they are not directly related to orders to stay home.

California was particularly affected by unemployment claims, which many analysts link to some of the nation’s first quarantine orders. Adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, the statewide unemployment rate was 15.5 percent and 14.7 percent nationwide.

In all, 195,000 jobs were lost in San Diego County from March to April, the state Department of Employment Development said. All job categories, from government to financial services, lost jobs.

The data comes as parts of California’s economy are beginning to reopen, and at least some workers are expected to return to their jobs soon.

Ray Major, chief economist at the San Diego Association of Governments, said that people will begin to return to work and that the unemployment rate may begin to decline, but it is not yet clear how many businesses will open. He said a real test of how long it will take for the economy to recover is to see how many companies open in the coming weeks.

However, he said there are already numerous companies – like Souplantation – that have closed permanently and that it will take time for workers to retrain or find new places to work.

“Not everyone is going to be able to go back to work, so there will be a relatively high level of unemployment for a considerable time,” Major said. “So it could take another year or two to work through the system.”

He noted that the state’s job data was taken since mid-April, when the shutdown had only been in effect for a few weeks, so many more jobs were lost after that. In addition, the Mayor said the state’s data only includes people who were able to apply for unemployment insurance, not everyone who was out of a job. Their association estimated the real unemployment rate was 30.1 percent as of May 9.

April’s numbers are in stark contrast to the same time last year, when the unemployment rate in San Diego County was 3 percent. The county had added 20,400 jobs in one year. Until this April, the region has lost almost 200,000 jobs in the last 12 months.

A major concern last year, which continued into the early months of 2020, was the shortage of workers and employment agencies that reported attempts to try to convince people to return to the workforce.

Compared to the Great Recession, the April numbers are worse. The highest unemployment recorded during that period was 11.1 percent in 2010. In addition, overall job loss provides a stark contrast: The average annual job loss from 2007 to 2008, the worst period of job loss jobs, was around 50,000 jobs lost – a quarter of April’s annual job losses.

Major said it took the San Diego region several years to lose some 100,000 jobs during the Great Recession. He said it is almost impossible to compare the two events because the pandemic caused an almost complete shutdown of the economy.

“The Great Recession is like you’re driving a car on the highway at 65 mph and the car is starting to run out of gas and it’s starting to slow down,” he said. “This is hitting a brick wall.”

Lynn Reaser, chief economist at the Point Loma Nazarene University Institute of Business and Economics, said the darkest days of this crisis may be behind us when the economy begins to reopen and, hopefully, many workers on leave of absence will return. .

“However, how quickly jobs return will be determined by reopening regulations, consumer confidence in their safety when buying again, and the purchasing power of the consumer affected by loss of employment or income,” said.

Reaser mentioned that when employment numbers adjust for seasonal swings, the unemployment rate in San Diego County is 15.1 percent.

The job category with the highest losses was leisure and hospitality, which lost 96,200 jobs from March to April. Jobs in this category include hotels and restaurants, as well as gambling, recreation and amusement positions.

The increase in the grocery store business could not save jobs in the retail sector. 27,500 jobs were lost in a variety of positions, especially in clothing and department store jobs. Also, despite the fact that several local grocery stores added new jobs during the crisis, it amounts to 500 new jobs in one year.

Other large losses occurred in professional and business services (employment services, construction services) with 15,700 losses; in government (local government education, state government education) with 6,600 losses; and in manufacturing (manufacturing of transport equipment, manufacturing of aerospace products) with 5,900 losses.

In addition, 14,500 jobs were lost in the category of other services, including large losses in laundry services, religious work, and various repair and maintenance jobs.

Genine Wilson, the West Coast vice president of Kelly Services personnel agency, said there are many companies that are struggling to fill vacant positions, especially as temperature takers, in grocery stores and in organizations that build personal protective equipment. . He said the problem they face is that many potential workers are earning more from unemployment.

Until the end of July, the federal CARES law will give unemployed workers an extra $ 600 a week, in addition to what state unemployment is giving them. In some cases, but not all, Californians may be earning more from unemployment than from their old jobs.

“We don’t judge, but some think that if my unemployment pays me as much as this job did, why put myself at risk?” Wilson said. “It is a strange tension that we feel right now with the number of unemployed being high and there are still organizations that are hiring.”

He said the best way for workers to excel in hiring when this crisis is over is to be able to demonstrate that they used quarantine time to hone their skills, not use it as free vacations. Wilson said online classes are a way to show that time was well spent.

San Diego Workforce Partnership has jobs available on its job portal ( and some of the top employers are CVS Health, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Rite Aid, St. Paul’s Senior Services and the disability services organization The Arc of San Diego.

State labor officials do not seasonally adjust the data at the county level, but March numbers show San Diego County had figures comparable to the rest of Southern California at 15 percent.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate was 20.3 percent; Orange County’s 13.8 percent; that of Riverside County 15.3 percent; San Bernardino County 13.4 percent and Ventura County 14 percent.