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San Diego County unemployment rate drops, but experts worry it may rise again

Posted at 11:44 AM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 14:57:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A report from SANDAG Thursday showed that unemployment in San Diego County fell for the sixth straight week.

San Diego County now has a 14.8% unemployment rate for the week ending June 20 -- that's down 1.5% from the previous week, and significantly lower than the peak of 25% on May 9.

"We're not out of the woods at all," warned SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major. "This is still 50% higher than the highest unemployment we had during the great recession."

Major said a 14.8% unemployment rate means 200,000 San Diegans are still out of work. According to the report, ZIP codes in Logan Heights, City Heights, Encanto, the College area, and San Ysidro are the hardest hit.

Major told ABC 10News the looming threat of renewed restrictions on businesses may lead to another rise in unemployment.

"Many of these businesses have been waiting to open up again," said Major. "They haven't made any revenue for the last couple of months, they were open for about 19 days and now you're telling them they have to shut down again. Some of them are not going to be able to make it."

Phil Blair, Chief Executive of Manpower Staffing, which helps companies find temporary employees, said he doesn't think unemployment will fall below 10% until the tourism industry recovers.

"We've got to open up airports, we've got to open up our convention center," Blair said. "And all of us have to be comfortable flying and then going into a big room with 8, 10, 12,000 people … Then we'll see (unemployment) at 13, 12 percent. And then once the virus dies down, I think within three months we'll be back within 5 or 6 percent. That's my prediction."

The five ZIP codes with lowest unemployment rates are Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Chula Vista NE and Rancho Bernardo W. These areas have an average unemployment rate of just over 10%.