The COVID-19 lockdown drove up unemployment rates in San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire as 2020 drew to a close. San Bernardino County unemployment rose from 3.3 percent in December 2020 to 9.2 percent in December 2020, with the loss of 55,600 payroll jobs.

Across the two-county region, the leisure and hospitality sectors recorded the biggest job losses – down 8,600 from November. Of those, restaurants and drinking establishments represented 7,600 lost jobs, as even outdoor dining was halted. On the plus side, professional and business services added 2,400 jobs, while education and health services added 1,500.

According to the Employment Development Department (EDD) Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Statistical Report released on Jan. 22, the unemployment rate in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 9.1 percent in December 2020, up from a revised 7.9 percent in November 2020, and above the year-ago estimate of 3.5 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.8 percent for California and 6.5 percent for the nation during the same period. The unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in San Bernardino County and 9.1 percent in Riverside County.

Between November 2020 and December 2020, total nonfarm employment in the Inland Empire fell from 1,462,900 to 1,459,600, a loss of 3,300 jobs. Agricultural employment remained unchanged over the month.

• Leisure and hospitality (down 8,600) recorded the largest payroll loss over the month. Accommodation and food services (down 8,600) accounted for 100 percent of the job loss. Within accommodation and food services, food services and drinking places (down 7,600), recorded the largest employment decrease, while accommodation fell by 1,000 jobs over the month.

• Month-over losses were also reported in other services (down 1,800), government (down 1,100), manufacturing (down 900), and mining and logging (down 100).

• Trade, transportation and utilities reported the largest increase with the addition of 4,100 jobs. Transportation and warehousing (up 4,100) and retail trade (up 1,100) contributed to the job growth. The gain was offset by a loss of 1,100 jobs in wholesale trade.

• Five industry sectors registered month-over payroll increases: professional and business services (up 2,400), educational and health services (up 1,500), construction (up 800), financial activities (up 300), and information (up 100).

Between December 2019 and December 2020, nonfarm employment decreased by 111,500 jobs (down 7.1 percent). Agricultural employment declined by 700 jobs (down 4.8 percent).

• Leisure and hospitality (down 58,400) posted the largest decline over the year. Accommodation and food services (down 53,600) accounted for approximately 92 percent of the job loss, where employment in food services and drinking places (down 45,000) and accommodation (down 8,600) contracted. Arts, entertainment, and recreation (down 4,800) also registered job losses.

• Government employment fell by 12,500. Local government (down 11,000) and state government (down 2,000) were responsible for the year-over decline in government jobs. Federal government gained 500 jobs over the year.

• Eight remaining industry sectors reduced year-over payroll levels: manufacturing (down 12,100), other services (down 9,300), trade, transportation, and utilities (down 8,700), educational and health services (down 6,800), professional and business services (down 3,900), information (down 1,700), financial activities (down 500), and mining and logging (down 300).

• The sole industry sector to advance employment levels over the year was construction (up 2,700).

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