Kern’s jump to 8.8% employment belies mixed economic picture | News

A new report showing Kern unemployment jumped 1.3 points between December and January gives a mixed view of the county’s economy with positive news for industries such as leisure and hospitality, which added local jobs after heavy losses during the pandemic.

The report from the state’s Department of Employment Development shows the county’s unemployment rate hit an unseasonally adjusted 8.8%, with 5,300 people going out of work while another 1,800 found work .

Cal State Bakersfield economist Richard Gearhart said by email that the report suggests three things may have happened, possibly all at once: Some people changed jobs, others have returned to the labor market and still others have been forced back to work due to higher inflation – the only negative of all three, he noted.

His interpretation was that the overall unemployment rate had jumped because more people overall were re-entering the labor market.

“It’s one of those weird situations,” Gearhart wrote, “again, where people are likely to come back into the workforce looking for jobs because there’s availability, they’re in changing jobs or they need to find a job.”

Despite inflation and the lingering economic effects of COVID-19, he added, there could be signs that local consumers are willing to spend despite a University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey suggesting that Americans overall are less likely to shop now than they have been since 2011.

Although some sectors have cut jobs, either because of regulations or because of the pandemic, Gearhart said, there have been hirings in others, which seems to indicate that many locals are able and willing. to pay recently higher prices.

A year earlier, in January 2021, Kern’s unemployment rate was 2.7 points above the January 2020 level at 11.5%.

California’s unemployment rate also rose in January by 0.7 points to 5.5%. The national rate, also shown on an unadjusted basis, rose 0.7 points to 4.4%.

EDD reported that local construction cut 200 jobs in December, or 1.3% of its county’s workforce. At the same time, manufacturing and the mining and logging category lost about 100 jobs.

Employment in professional and business services fell by 500 jobs month over month in January, a loss of 2%, according to the report.

The data shows that local retailers laid off a total of 1,000 people between December and January, but ended the period with 7.1% more jobs than in January 2021.

Restaurants added 500 net jobs in December, or 2.3%, EDD reported.

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