A construction worker walks by the Long Beach Boulevard-facing side of the new Laserfiche headquarter in Bixby Knolls Thursday, Jan. 6, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Unemployment in Long Beach has reached pre-pandemic levels after its ninth consecutive month of decline, according to data released last week by the California Employment Development Department.

The city’s unemployment rate dropped from 5% in March to 4.8% last month, which is the same rate as February 2020. The city’s labor force, however, consists of about 10,000 fewer people than prior to the pandemic, state data shows. Similarly, the number of employed residents is down by just over 10,000.

Long Beach’s labor force in April dipped from 234,800 to 232,700 people. The number of employed residents in the city similarly decreased from 223,100 to 221,500. In February 2020, the labor force and number of employed residents was 243,400 and 231,700, respectively.

The countywide unemployment rate also has reached pre-pandemic levels, now at 4.7%.

While unemployment in Long Beach continues to drop, the city is still trailing behind nearly 65% of the county’s other cities and census areas, according to state data. Of the 124 cities and areas, only 40 have a higher unemployment rate.

Three cities—El Segundo, Hawthorne and Pico Rivera—have the same unemployment rate as Long Beach.

Unemployment statewide is 3.8%, down from 4.2% in March.

“Labor supply remains the biggest constraint to job growth in the state,” Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon Economics and the Center for Economic Forecasting, said in a statement. “And as employers seek to ramp up employment during the seasonally strong summer months, worker scarcity will continue to place upward pressure on wages in the state.”

Statewide, the largest job gains continue to occur in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality led payroll gains in April with the addition of 20,100 jobs, according to a Beacon report. Professional, scientific and technical services, government, retail, transportation, warehousing and utilities, administrative support, manufacturing and information also saw strong gains.

Construction posted significant losses through April, declining payroll by 13,200, according to Beacon.

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