San Bernardino County has regained 58 percent of jobs lost during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, far outpacing the state average as the local economy continues to show signs of a healthy recovery.

Newly released figures from the California Employment Development Department show unemployment in San Bernardino County dropping to 8.6 percent in January, down significantly from its April 2020 peak of 14.2 percent.

Since the end of May, employers in the county have added more than 80,000 non-farm jobs, out of 138,500 that were lost during the first three months of the pandemic. That 58 percent recovery rate compares to 39 percent for the state as a whole.

“San Bernardino County has become a major business and economic hub for the region and all of California, so it’s not surprising to see us leading the state out of pandemic downturn,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We’re a great place to do business and to find that right job.”

The EDD report showed a 0.2 percent improvement in the county’s unemployment rate from December, continuing a trend that has seen the rate fall in eight of the last nine months. Although total employment dipped slightly during January, it was offset by a post-holiday decline in the labor force.

For the Inland Empire as a whole, total employment (1.89 million) is now within 6 percent of its prior year total, with supply chain-related jobs showing strong gains during that period. The Transportation and Warehousing sector was up 17 percent from January 2020 to January 2021 -- an increase of more than 25,000 jobs.

Phil Cothran, a Fontana resident and chairman of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board, said the recovery shines a light on the work WDB does in building a pipeline of trained and qualified workers to meet the needs of businesses.

“Our county is one of the fastest growing in the U.S., which is a tremendous asset for companies looking to relocated or expand. Between our America’s Job Centers of California and our Business Services team, we’re committed to connecting job seekers to the great employment opportunities that are out there -- and in the process, to ensure companies have the employees necessary to grow and succeed,” Cothran said.

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