As more businesses reopen or expand operations thanks to falling COVID-19 numbers, unemployment rates across the country, including in Long Beach, continue to fall.

The city’s unemployment rate is 11.7% as of February, down from 14.1% the month before, according to preliminary data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. Of the city’s 241,200 workers, 28,300 are without a job.

The city’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly since peaking in June at nearly 21%, but there is still a ways to go until Long Beach reaches the historic low of 4% unemployment achieved in May 2019. Long Beach’s unemployment remains well-above the national rate of 6.6%, which is down from 6.8% in January.

At the county and state level, unemployment also continues to decline, with rates now 10.9% and 8.4%, respectively. The county rate represents a decrease of nearly 2%, while the state figure dropped just under 1%.

Like Long Beach, county, state and national unemployment rates remain above pre-pandemic levels, with county and state numbers more than double those from February 2020. But the downward trend has economists hopeful for what’s to come in the coming months.

“After a dark winter when the California labor market recovery stalled, February has brought significant hope to the state’s displaced workers,” Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside Center for Forecasting, said in a statement.

California accounted for over 37% of net jobs added nationwide, according to a Beacon report. While there are still nearly 1.7 million fewer people employed statewide, Osman said that the vaccine rollout is grounds for optimism that there will be significant job gains throughout spring and summer.

Leisure and hospitality, one of the hardest-hit sectors throughout the pandemic, had the biggest job gains in February, according to Beacon, with payroll increasing by 102,200. The sector has a long road of recovery ahead, having lost more than 689,000 jobs during the economic downturn.

Health care, manufacturing, retail and administrative support also posted healthy job gains.

By contrast, a few sectors experienced job losses in February, including information, wholesale trade, real estate and professional, scientific and technical services. Government saw the most job losses at 6,000.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.