Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate remained stable in October, continuing a trend of resuming the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County was 6.9% in October, unchanged from September figures, according to data from the state’s Employment Development Department. Local data are not seasonally adjusted.
Statewide unemployment fell to 7.3% from 7.5% in September. The national unemployment rate in October was 4.6%, down from 4.8% in September, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In October 2020, Stanislas reported 10.3% unemployment, against 10.6% in California and 6.9% nationally.
Jeff Michael, director of public policy programs at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, said Stanislaus’ stagnation came after several “very calm” months for the region. While other parts of the state have been successful in creating jobs in sectors like recreation and hospitality, these sectors do not make up as much of the local economy.
As a result, the recovery in Stanislas appeared to be different from that of other regions which are attracting more tourist activity.
In October, the manufacturing industry saw a drop of 1,200 jobs locally, with modest gains statewide. Michael attributes this loss to seasonal employment, especially in areas like food processing, which fluctuates seasonally.
The region recorded modest gains in the construction sector, as well as in transport and trade.
Statewide, the business and professional services, recreation and hospitality, and transportation sectors recorded the largest gains, contributing to the addition of 96,800 non-farm jobs. EDD data shows the state has recouped 1,828,500, or 67.4%, of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, Michael said the holiday season will certainly inject money into the economy, even if consumers won’t flock to physical stores at pre-pandemic rates. Instead, he expects online retailing to continue to grow.
“Certainly there is going to be a lot more online shopping,” he said. “You might see more of the seasonal surge in employment (for positions like) couriers and warehouses (workers), and less on the retail floor.”
Beyond the holidays, Michael looks to 2022 for a permanent economic recovery. While he and other economists forecast a larger recovery at the end of 2021, the past few months have turned out to be slower than expected.
Still, Michael said, more lasting improvements are on the horizon. And when the economy recovers, he said researchers will be able to assess the changes left behind as a result of the pandemic.
Remote and hybrid workplaces are likely to become a permanent fixture, Michael said, even as employers continue to understand what exactly this means for their workers, and workers themselves are examining their priorities in new ways.
“The whole experience has caused many workers to re-evaluate what they want to do and how they want to do it,” said Michael. “Where they want to do it. This is obviously an ongoing process that we will have to monitor, but certainly not everything will come back to where it was.
This story was produced with the financial support of the Stanislas Community Foundation, with the GroundTruth Project‘s Report for America Initiative. The Modesto Bee retains full editorial control over this work.
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