A Year Into Pandemic, Burbank’s Unemployment Still Elevated

Data Source: California Employment Development Department

Burbank’s unemployment rate last month was significantly higher than it was in March 2020, according to state data, with the gap recently widening slightly.

The city’s unemployment rate bumped up from 11.1% in February to 11.3% in March, according to preliminary data from the California Employment Development Department. While the number of unemployed workers remained constant at 6,600, the number of employed residents fell from 52,400 to 52,200.

The city’s labor force — the number of residents either working or actively looking for work — similarly dropped by 200 people.

Los Angeles County saw its unemployment rate remain flat between February and March at 10.9%. The number of unemployed workers in the county fell from about 556,900 to 555,100, but its labor force also shrunk by nearly 23,000 residents.

Burbank’s unemployment rate in March 2020 — when sectors had only just started to close in response to the pandemic — was 7.4%, representing 4,300 unemployed workers. The county’s rate was 6.6%, reflecting 327,500 workers.

In February 2020, those percentages were 5.1% for Burbank and 4.6% for L.A. County.

Burbank’s unemployment rate declined for months since it peaked at 23.9% in May. But after reaching a pandemic-era low of 10.5% in November, it has fluctuated somewhat amid a flurry of health order changes, rising to 13.3% in January.

L.A. County’s entry into the red tier in the state’s reopening plan occurred shortly after the EDD collected March 2021 data. Because of this, the resumption of indoor dining and the lifting of capacity limits on many business types are not reflected in the department’s report.

Gov. Gavin Newsom changed the state’s reopening rules last month to make it easier for counties to enter the less-restrictive tiers, which are color-coded, after 2 million vaccines were administered across California.

The EDD’s next data release, scheduled for mid-May, will include employment adjustments made after L.A. County entered the orange tier at the end of March.

In California, the unemployment rate fell from 8.5% in February to 8.3% in March. Leisure and hospitality fields — including performing arts, restaurants and hotels — continued to see the most significant job gains after Newsom lifted his statewide stay-at-home order that prohibited outdoor dining. Retail and wholesale stores also saw significant employment increases.

The motion picture and sound recording industry — which is a major employer in Burbank — reported a 3.2% jobs increase in L.A. County from February to March. But it remained at almost a third of the number of jobs it reported in March 2020.