Marin unemployment rate declines to 2.8%

Marin County recorded the state’s second-lowest unemployment rate in February, continuing its gradual job recovery since the start of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago, according to state data released on Friday.

The county posted a 2.8% unemployment rate last month, down from 3.1% in January. The county had a 5.6% unemployment rate in February 2021 and a 2.4% rate in February 2020 — the month before the pandemic stay-at-home orders were issued.

“Overall, it looks like it’s going on a solid recovery path,” said Jorge Villalobos, research data specialist with the California Employment Development Department.

That said, Marin’s labor force — which includes both employed residents and unemployed residents actively searching for a job — was at 130,800 last month compared with 139,400 people in February 2020.

Several factors could be behind the workforce reduction, including retirements, residents moving out of the county or residents who have voluntarily left the workforce and aren’t actively seeking a job, said Robert Eyler, chief economist of the Marin Economic Forum. That could affect local employers’ ability to find workers and Marin’s economy.

“The reduction of the labor force is little concerning the longer it lingers,” Eyler said.

San Mateo County had the lowest rate in the state last month at 2.7%, while Santa Clara County had the third-lowest at 2.9%. Marin is typically among the three counties with the lowest unemployment rate because its residents generally have higher-paying jobs that were not as impacted during the pandemic. Lower-wage workers typically cannot afford Marin’s high cost of living and commute into the county for work.

California’s unemployment rate decreased from 5.8% in January to 5.4% last month. The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 4% to 3.8% during the same period.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said California job gains in February accounted for 20% of all job growth in the nation.

“These latest numbers show that California is continuing to drive our nation’s job growth,” Newsom said. “We’re doing it by promoting more pathways to opportunity and embracing the diversity, creativity, innovation and determination that breeds success — building a California for all.”

The number of jobs in Marin County was still down by about 9,700, or about 8.4%, compared to February 2020, according to the state data. About 5,400 of the jobs are in sectors that were hardest hit from the pandemic, including service and hospitality, retail and trade and businesses such as hair and nail salons, according to Villalobos.

Government jobs, including public education, were also down by 1,100 jobs, and private education and health care jobs were down 1,900 jobs compared to February 2020.

Marin unemployment rate declines to 2.8%