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Bay Area, California job gains slow as post-COVID rebound wilts

The pace of the job gains in the Bay Area and California continued to slow in April, a sign the economic rebound in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak has begun to wilt, a report released Friday shows.

The Bay Area added 11,500 jobs in April, but those numbers were a dramatic slowdown from the employment gains in both February and March, according to state Employment Development Department figures.

California’s pattern was the same: The state gained 41,400 jobs during April, a considerably smaller upswing than the employment increases in February and March, this news organization’s analysis of the EDD report shows.

“The Bay area and California appear to be losing a bit of momentum,” said Mark Vitner, a Wells Fargo senior economist.

The statewide unemployment rate in April dipped slightly to 4.6%, an improvement from 4.8% in March, according to the state labor agency. That’s the lowest it’s been since February 2020, before state and local government agencies imposed wide-ranging business shutdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

But even with last month’s improvement, California’s jobless rate remains higher than the nation’s 3.6% unemployment rate.

Santa Clara County added 4,300 jobs in April, while the San Francisco-San Mateo region added 4,900 positions and the East Bay gained 2,100 jobs, the report showed. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal variations.

Despite the disquieting trend for the California job market, Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a prepared release, pointed out that the state has delivered job gains in 14 of the past 15 months.

Plus, over the one-year period that ended in April, both California and the Bay Area have outpaced the nation in the pace of gains in total jobs. During the most recent 12 months, the job market has grown by 5.6% in California, 5.8% in the Bay Area and 4.6% in the United States.

Still, California and the Bay Area both lag the nation when it comes to recovering the jobs lost in March 2020 and April 2020 at the start of pandemic shutdowns. The United States has recouped 94.6 percent of its lost positions, while California has regained 91.3% and the Bay Area has recovered 79.9%, this news organization’s analysis of EDD statistics shows.

“More work is needed to bolster the economy and help offset higher costs that families are dealing with right now,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday about the new employment report.

The state government’s budget surplus will be redeployed in a variety of ways, the governor vowed.

“California’s record $97.5 billion surplus is going right back into Californians’ pockets and addressing our state’s most existential challenges, fostering growth and opportunity for all,”  Newsom said.

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