Santa Clarita unemployment at 20% amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Santa Clarita is among the top 40 cities in Los Angeles County facing the highest unemployment rates amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to recently released state data. 

From March to April, the unemployment rate citywide soared from 6% to 20%, with an estimated 21,600 people without a job, based on figures from the state Economic Development Department’s monthly report for April. 

For comparison, just behind Santa Clarita were cities such as Carson, Pomona, Whittier and South Pasadena with percentages between 20% to 16%. Cities including Irwindale, Rosemead and Burbank saw unemployment rates ranging between 28% to 23%. Data also showed Acton at 15.9% and Val Verde at 31.4%. 

Countywide, nearly one million people of the county’s 10 million residents — across more than 100 cities, plus unincorporated communities — were reported without a job, marking an unemployment rate of 20.3% in April, according to state data. 

And across California, nearly 4.6 million people filed for unemployment claims since mid-March as the state looks to close the gap on a projected $54.3 billion budget shortfall brought forth by stay-at-home orders that have kept people at home and multiple businesses closed for months. 

Santa Clarita’s unemployment rate in February reached 4% before dipping into double digits in April, which was when employers and employees alike felt the most impact of the county and state lockdown orders, according to Jason Crawford, economic development director for the city of Santa Clarita. 

“That’s when the stay-at-home orders were issued (March 19) and when businesses were told to close and when that happened, it put, unfortunately, so many of our residents out of work and that’s why we’ve seen April as what is hopefully the bottom,” he said Tuesday. 

But city officials remain hopeful as Gov. Gavin Newsom and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and its Department of Public Health ease restrictions, allowing for additional businesses to reopen. 

“As far as exactly what the (unemployment rate) is going to be (in the next coming months) is going to depend on what we see as far as businesses reopening and being able to bring their employees back. We are hoping to see that happening faster here in Santa Clarita and we definitely hope to see an improvement.” 

On Tuesday, county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV, announced that in-store shopping and churches could join other businesses that have already reopened to continue operations. The county has asked the state to allow grooming services and in-person dining to resume. 

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