Unemployment rates continue steady decline


As Los Angeles County surpasses one year since the first businesses were told to close their doors amid stay-at-home orders, unemployment rates have continued to drop countywide, and locally, the city of Santa Clarita remains slightly ahead of the county average.

Santa Clarita’s figure for January of 11.7% was a full percentage point better than the countywide average, and better than some of the city’s neighbors, such as the city of L.A., Burbank and Palmdale. (See chart.)

California’s unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points to 9.0% in January from December, which while higher than the 4.2% seen in January 2020, was a significant decrease from the state’s peak unemployment rate of 16.3% in May 2020, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.

The comparable estimates for the national unemployment rate had fallen to 6.3% in January, but was 2.8 points higher than in January 2020.

While unemployment rates have continued to see a steady decline since last year’s record highs, many of those who’ve been unemployed through the pandemic have yet to return to work.

In fact, a new study by nonpartisan California Policy Lab found that nearly 1 in 5 California workers received unemployment insurance benefits in February 2021, nearly a year after the pandemic began, while half of those recipients claimed more than half a year’s benefits, or more than 26 weeks and are therefore considered long-term unemployed.

However, as health orders are relaxed, city and regional business officials expect to see more local job opportunities on the horizon.

“As we see the health departments allow businesses, like Magic Mountain and movie theaters,  to reopen or to have some amounts of expanded activity, like indoor dining at restaurants, we will see those businesses increase hiring and bring more of our residents back to work,” said Jason Crawford, the city’s planning, marketing and economic development manager. “We are excited about increasing this economic activity, in a safe way, and allowing our businesses to get back to business.”

Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp., agreed, adding, “We anticipate continued recovery of jobs in the Santa Clarita Valley, especially as Magic Mountain reopens, and later this year, Princess Cruises resumes sailings. These companies are two of our largest employers and have been hit hardest by the shutdown orders. We should also see increased recovery in the retail and hospitality sector as reopenings continue.”

At this time, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends avoiding any travel on cruise ships, leaving operations for locally based Princess Cruises in turmoil.

“We don’t have many jobs open for recruiting right now because our return to service/operations still remain uncertain based on authorization from public health authorities around the world, specifically the CDC here in the U.S.,” added Brian O’Connor, vice president of communications.

Inversely, Six Flags Magic Mountain has been given the green light by the state to reopen, and plans on doing so April 1.

“We have tons of safety procedures that have been implemented at all the other Six Flags parks across the country as they’ve opened that were developed in line with the CDC (protocols) and (in consultation with) epidemiologists that we hired,” said Jerry Certonio, the park’s manager of marketing and communications.

The park’s been in preparation mode, running the roller coasters and recertifying ride operators, and is currently planning on hiring for up to 1,500 open positions.

“We’re hiring for pretty much every position, as we look to get back to business as quickly as possible,” Certonio added. 

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