Statewide unemployment numbers for April spiked higher than projected, jumping an unprecedented 10.2%, according to a jobs report released by California's Employment Development Department on Friday morning.
With more than 2.3 million Californians losing their jobs in April, the state's unemployment rate now stands at 15.5%, up from 5.3% in March. Two Midpeninsula cities also reached double-digits: Atherton's and East Palo Alto's unemployment rates are both now 12.4%, according to the department's data.
"The unprecedented job losses are like nothing before seen in California history in a current data series that dates back to 1976, and are a direct result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," the May 22 report states.
The number of unemployed Californians rose to almost 2.9 million in over just two months, according to the report, surpassing the previous 2.2 million peak during the Great Recession in 2010, which took more than two years to reach.
Locally, unemployment rates in cities along the Midpeninsula jumped three to five times higher than their average overall 2019 rates, which represented an all-time low. Atherton and East Palo Alto have the highest unemployment rates, while Palo Alto, at 5.5%, has the lowest among Midpeninsula cities, according to the state's unemployment claims data. Atherton reported 400 lost jobs from its workforce of 3,000; East Palo Alto showed 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 14,200; and Palo Alto reported 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 32,400.
Every one of California’s 11 industry sectors lost jobs in April, according to the report. The leisure and hospitality industry posted the largest loss with 866,200 jobs statewide, which was more than double the reported losses in the trade, transportation and utilities industries combined. Those industries saw a loss of 388,700 positions.
Leisure and hospitality and retail took the biggest hits in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, which are included in the state's data for North and South Bay Metropolitan areas. In the last two weeks of March alone, the San Mateo area lost 5,900 leisure jobs and 1,000 retail positions; the Santa Clara area lost 6,200 and 1,100 jobs respectively.
For a more detailed look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted local employment, see "Life in Quarantine: How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Silicon Valley: Labor Spotlight", the first in our visual By The Numbers series that will roll out next week.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.