Nevada County’s employment rate has risen from 28th in the state in June to 19th in July, according to employment numbers reported by the Employment Development Department.
Nevada County’s July unemployment rate was 10.6%; for reference, the statewide rate was 13.7%.
According to the Employment Development Department, the civilian employment rate in Nevada County increased from 86.9% in June to 89.4% in July — an increase of 9.4%. However, this July’s employment rate — 89.4% — is still 16.2% lower than that of July 2019, when it was 96.5%.
In Nevada County, only two industry categories showed an overall decrease in employment from June to July — information and government. Government employment, however, has shown one of the smallest decreases on a yearly scale, dropping from 5,860 to 5,630 employees since July 2019 — a 3.9% decrease.
Nevada City Vice Mayor Duane Strawser explained that the relatively low change in government employment in the county can be explained.
“All of our budgets are projected ahead, so we do our best to plan ahead with all of our salary output,” said Strawser. “It may be until next year or even 2022 before we have to start looking at potential furloughs if the economy has not improved, because we’ve already banked the money for all of our employees in departments such as police, fire, and Public Works.”
Strawser said the funds to maintain these government jobs, as well as many administrative roles, are carefully allotted in advance because of the essential role these employees play in the city’s functioning.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry saw the biggest increase from June to July of any single industry in Nevada County, increasing by 43.5%, from 2,320 to 3,330 employees. However, the industry is still 36.2% below its July 2019 employment of 5,220 people.
Retail trade has also seen a bump in employment, from 2,610 employees in June to 3,050 in July, an increase of 16.9%.
Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Marni Marshall said businesses in these sectors may be seeing some financial improvement due to increased tourism in the summer as well as locals opting to spend their money within the county rather than take summer vacations, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s a little bit of an uptick in tourism, and there’s curiosity about the street closure (on Mill Street),” said Marshall.
She said some merchants reported sales increasing by as much as 100% if they extend their business hours by a couple of hours at the end of the day.
“There has been a shift as some merchants look to adjust, and it seems to be going really well for them,” said Marshall.
The only industry in Nevada County to show employment growth in July relative to July 2019 is farming. Last year, 90 Nevada County residents were reported as working in the farm industry; as of July, that number had grown to 110, an increase of 22.2%.