FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – When the pandemic hit in 2020, unemployment rates took a dive, and businesses were forced to close.

However, newly released unemployment rates for 2021 show a vast improvement.

Experts say they’re excited about the progress we’ve made so far, and that the industries hardest hit by the pandemic are the ones seeing a drastic bounce back.

“I think it’s encouraging seeing the unemployment rates in the valley drop,” said financial advisor Brian Ullman.

He says unemployment numbers are trending in the right direction for rates in the valley, and even statewide.

“This is part of this bounce back, from COVID that were starting to see, and I know different variants can cause some setbacks but it’s undeniable the trajectory right now is up, and that’s especially true in the job market,” said Ullman.

Pre-pandemic numbers in 2019 show unemployment rates steady with Fresno County at 7.4%.

When the pandemic hit, 2020 numbers tanked, increasing state unemployment rates significantly, and Fresno County to 11.3%.

Industries that required gathering and close contact, including hospitality, restaurants, nursing care, and even construction were closing shop during the start of COVID-19.

“They were the first ones to go they were the hardest ones hit. When hotels were vacant, restaurants were dark, people were being laid off,” Ullman says.

Ullman says quarantine and the pandemic have allowed many people to adjust their skill sets, reaccess, and prep for jobs they’ve always wanted.

“There’s some moment around, you’re seeing not just unemployment rates here but quit rates. People are quitting their jobs to go have different jobs, whether it’s higher-paying or in a different field.”

Now with the start of 2021, Fresno County has already dropped 3%, standing at 8.8% unemployment.

“There are more jobs available and there are good jobs, so I would expect for this unemployment rate to continue to drop,” Ullman explained.

Experts say while the unemployment rates already show a vast improvement significantly in 2021, we have yet to recover to levels seen pre-pandemic.