20200929-bc-retailcenters

Construction workers from MDM Construction prepare the exterior walls of a Del Taco restaurant, located at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Buena Vista Road, in September.

New data shows Kern County's unemployment rate dropped in November to its lowest level since the pandemic first shook the local economy in March.

On Friday, the state Employment Development Department estimated last month's seasonally unadjusted jobless rate at 9.4 percent, down from a revised 10.2 percent in October.

November's reading was the lowest mark since February's 9.1 percent. EDD data indicates local joblessness officially peaked at 18.7 percent in April.

Friday's report reflects layoffs in farming and construction as well as hiring surges in retail and the employment category of transportation, warehousing and utilities.

Employment in the county's highly seasonal farming industry shrank in November by 4.1 percent, or 2,200 jobs, according to the EDD. Construction was down 800 positions from October's total, a decline of 4.8 percent.

On the positive side, general merchandise stores preparing for the holiday shopping season added 600 positions, or 8.7 percent.

Transportation, warehousing and utilities racked up 500 new jobs, growing by 3.7 percent, while leisure and hospitality added 500 jobs, or 2.4 percent.