San Francisco businesses have begun reopening and serving customers one after the other since the city slowly eased its COVID-19 restrictions, decreasing the overall unemployment rate in the region.

The California Employment Development Department conducted two surveys that found February’s unemployment rate went down to 8.5% from January’s 9%. It is the lowest rate seen since the beginning of the pandemic, state Labor Secretary Julie A. Su said.

Lower Unemployment Rate

In a joint statement with the Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Dee Dee Myers, Su said the statistics were a massive milestone for the region. In February, officials saw a 141,000 job increase month-over-month. It nearly compensated for the 155,400 jobs lost in December and January, where the state saw the winter surge of infections.

California has recovered nearly 39% of the 2.7 million nonfarm jobs lost last year in March and April. Residents were forced out of their careers due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts.

Across seven of California’s 11 job sectors, the surveys observed an improved month-over-month unemployment rate. The affected sectors include leisure and hospitality, educational and health services, and other services such as personal care businesses.

However, there are still many residents who do not have jobs amid the pandemic. Compared to last year, the unemployment rate was much lower at 4.3%, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Women and communities of color have been severely affected by the job losses, said Su and Myers. “Latino and Asian American workers have been hard hit on the front lines as essential workers. African Americans have applied for unemployment benefits at astounding rates, further evidence of the inequities we must address to ensure a strong, equitable recovery,” the two said.