SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The number of Americans filing for unemployment for the first time has dropped to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that 684,000 Americans filed for the jobless benefits after losing their jobs. That's down 97,000 from the prior week, and from the peak of 6 million per week in late March and early April of 2020.
"It's good that fewer people are filing for unemployment insurance but the bad news is it's still high, compared to the pre-pandemic situation," said University of San Diego economist Alan Gin.
San Diego County is seeing an increase in job opportunities now that the region has moved into the red tier. That allowed restaurants, movie theaters and museums to serve customers indoors at limited capacity.
"We are hiring," said Joey Busalacchi, owner of Barbusa restaurant in Little Italy. "I'm glad to say that. That just means that we're ramping-up business right now."
Busalacchi said he is looking to add about 15 staffers, now that he is noticing more office workers crowding the streets at lunch time.
The county's leisure and hospitality field is down about 77,000 jobs over the year. Gin said for it to fully recover, vaccine distribution would need to increase and conventions would need to return.
In California, 95,863 filed for unemployment for the first time last week. That's a drop of 13,000 from the week earlier.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership offers free job-training and placement services.