Unemployment in Long Beach reached 20.6% in mid-April, with more recent job losses expected to bring that total to more than 25% in May, officials said.
Both unemployment rates would represent the highest percentage of workers out of jobs since this data has been tracked by state and federal governments, and gives a stark perspective on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Robert Garcia said in an email that COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on the community.
“It has not only been a public health crisis, but also created an economic crisis for many families,” he said.
Long Beach’s civilian labor force consists of 223,200 people, with 45,900 receiving unemployment benefits as of April 11, according to Pacific Gateway Executive Director Nick Schultz.
May numbers are expected to be worse, with more than 55,800 people out of work, he said. Data through May 16 has not been finalized and released yet; this data will be published by the California Employment Development Department on June 19, he said.
In July 2010, at the peak of the Great Recession, Long Beach unemployment reached 14.3%. One year ago, in May 2019, the city reached a historic low of 4%.
Due to strict health orders, Schultz said the hospitality and retail sectors have been hardest hit by job losses.
Statewide, the unemployment rate rose to a record high of 15.5% in April, after a loss of over 2.3 million jobs, according to the state employment development website. The amount of job losses is “like nothing before seen in California history,” according to the department.
Across the country, 20.5 million jobs were lost in April, bringing total unemployment to 14.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.