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Reopening: State Unemployment Rate At 16.3 Percent; Highest Since Great Depression; More Than 2.2M Jobs Lost

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) -- As the state's economy begins reawakening from it's more than 3-month slumber brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, signs of the damage left behind from the shutdown continues to mount.

Across the San Francisco Bay Area, health officials have eased the strict shelter-in-place restrictions put into place at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the last several weeks in-store retail, shopping malls, dining both inside and out and other sectors of the local economy have reopened with social distancing standards on place.

But those actions were too late to help in May.

On Friday, officials announced that California's unemployment rate continued to climb in May, reaching 16.3%. It's the highest unemployment for the nation's most populous state since the Great Depression more than 80 years ago.

Nationally, 38 states saw their unemployment rates decline since April as officials begin loosening their stay-at—home orders and businesses began to open up again.

But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found California's rate increased from April, when it was 15.5%. In the last year the state has lost more than 2.2 million jobs — the largest decline in the country.

California has paid more than $30 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, according to the California Employment Development Department. The state has exhausted its account to pay these benefits, forcing it to borrow more than $2 billion from the federal government.

It's a remarkable change for a state that, through February, was enjoying a 10-year economic expansion that saw the addition of more than 3.4 million jobs that accounted for 15% of the nation's job growth. About two-thirds of those gains were wiped out in April as the state lost 2.3 million jobs and its unemployment rate hit double digits for the first time since the Great Recession a decade ago.

California, like most states, has relaxed its stay-at-home order to allow most businesses to open again, but with restrictions that in many cases limit how many customers they can serve. Most California counties now allow restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters, hotels, day camps and gyms to open.

But following a spike in new cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered people to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoors when physical distancing isn't possible.

California has more than 167,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 5,300 deaths, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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