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Nevada County’s unemployment rate climbs above 14%

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

By the NUMBERS

Nevada County labor market data, according to the California Employment Development Department preliminary report:

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

14.5% (April 2020)

4.8% (March 2020)

3.2% (April 2019)

LABOR FORCE

45,090 (April 2020)

47,520 (March 2020)

48,400 (April 2019)

UNEMPLOYED

6,530 (April 2020)

2,270 (March 2020)

1,560 (April 2019)

EMPLOYED

38,550 (April 2020)

45,250 (March 2020)

46,830 (April 2019)

New data released from the state reveals Nevada County unemployment numbers are what many had already suspected them to be: the sharpest spike in joblessness in recent history.

The county, which maintains a labor force of about 45,000 has an unemployment rate of 14.5%, or about 6,350 unemployed people, for the month of April.

The unemployment rate shot up nearly 10% in Nevada County from 4.8% in March, and up from 3.2% in April 2019.

In the rest of the state, the numbers are worse still, as a total 2.3 million jobs were lost and the unemployment rate averaged 15.5% during the same month. In the north state, counties like Colusa and Plumas took an even harder turn, maintaining unemployment rates of 26.3% and 20.5%, respectively.

Nevada City resident and visiting professor at Vienna University of Economics and Business Gary Zimmerman said that Nevada County’s unemployment trends reflect that of the state and the nation, as the economic damages leave almost no sector spared.

“Small businesses, especially in the service sector, including hospitality, food services, and retail have been especially hard hit,” he wrote in an email. “The education and government sectors will suffer from a sharp fall in retail sales tax revenues and costs associated with providing healthcare and safety net services as the recession worsens.”

As Zimmerman has stated before, the financial situation will likely worsen before it progresses, as he expects the May unemployment rate to increase. The best path forward, Zimmerman wrote, is to follow the guidelines suggested by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. That is, as the Federal Reserve has already done its part lowering interest rates, Powell said in late April that the U.S. needs more federal stimulus spending from Congress.

Additional federal spending, said Zimmerman, should help buoy workers, small businesses as well as state and local government bodies that provide “critical services” like police and fire protection, environmental stewardship and education, preventing a more severe recession from persisting.

Still, the economy will likely continue to slog, wrote Zimmerman, as he noted that the unemployment rate will be, from an optimistic take, at least 10% through 2020.

“Even if most are only temporarily unemployed, that means millions of workers may be out of a job for a longer period of time when the unemployment rate is extraordinarily high and it will take more time to find a position,” he wrote. “Businesses won’t be rehiring until they see demand for their products and services, and that will take time to rebound for consumers to start spending as they had before the pandemic.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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