Report: LA County to reach pre-pandemic job level by early 2023 – LA Daily News

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Los Angeles County and several other metropolitan areas in California will reach pre-pandemic employment levels by early 2023, according to Beacon Economics.
The Golden State’s overall jobs recovery has been slower than that of some other states because of high housing costs and more stringent COVID-19 protections, among other factors.
Beacon’s analysis spotlights steady job gains in L.A. County, San Diego, San Francisco, the South Bay region of Silicon Valley and the East Bay, while also illustrating the ground these urban cores need to make up to regain their job base.
In March, the state Employment Development Department released revisions to its monthly employment estimates for 2021 that show L.A. County’s labor market has been recovering faster than originally thought.
Prior to the revision, the county’s nonfarm employment growth came in at just 1.3% from December 2020 to December 2021. After the revision, the annual growth rate jumped to 3.1%.
“While there is still a considerable amount of lost ground to recover, economic conditions in Los Angeles County have gradually continued to improve,” the report said.
More recent EDD data show L.A. County added 61,100 jobs in February, bringing the county’s total employment base to 4,462,500. Unemployment dropped to 6.4% from 10.7% a year earlier.
Beacon said the county’s recovery has been slowed by strict pandemic-related mandates and its diverse mix of jobs, which skews heavily toward services and hospitality.
Hotels and restaurants were among the hardest hit businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as temporary closures and heavy restrictions were put in place. But the county’s economy is on an upward trajectory.
“With restrictions easing, Los Angeles County is expected to transition from recovery to expansion in the early months of 2023,” the report said.
Taner Osman, Beacon’s research manager, said they had hoped the recovery would have come sooner.
“Texas and Arizona have already achieved pre-pandemic job levels,” he said. “California has been a laggard in that respect.”
Many businesses are struggling to fill all of their openings amid the current labor shortage.
Art Solis, who manages three 3.99 Pizza Co. locations in Covina, West Covina and Montclair, is among them. He’s tried for nearly a year to hire more workers — with no success.
“No one out there wants to work,” he said. “We’ve had help wanted signs up and have really tried to recruit more people … it’s frustrating.”
Solis said he needs at least 15 more workers — five per location.
“There are times when we have to close early because we don’t have enough help,” he said. “If we have a rush we can’t handle it. I was paying $1 above the minimum wage before, but now we’re paying $16 and $17 an hour.”
That doesn’t surprise Osman.
“California is a high-cost place to live, so that’s made it harder for businesses to recruit workers,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of that in the neighborhood where I live. A local Sprouts has a sign out front for walk-in interviews.”
Lee Levy, who owns Nex Graphics, a Woodland Hills-based graphics and web design company, isn’t looking to hire. But her orders are coming in a warp speed.
“We’re exploding with business,” she said. “In the last six months, we’ve seen a doubling in requests for new websites and revamps of old websites.”
Levy said a growing number of displaced workers have formed their own ventures.
“A lot of businesses closed during the pandemic,” she said. “But there has been a rebirth of new business. People who were let go had to come up with something, and I’m seeing a lot of entrepreneurs.”
L.A. County posted a year-over-year job gain of 9.1% in January, nearly double the national growth rate of 4.7%. But the region is still in recovery mode and has more ground to cover compared to neighboring counties.
The report says California needs to build more housing, a move that would increase home affordability for all residents.
That can be accomplished, Beacon said, by reducing homebuilding fees and permit costs, reforming policies that restrict homebuilding (such as the California Environmental Quality Act), and by eliminating policies like Proposition 13 that incentivize local governments to implement costly homebuilding fees.
San Diego County: Pandemic-related job losses will be recovered by the end of this year or the beginning of 2023
San Francisco: A full labor market recovery by late 2022 or early 2023
South Bay: Full employment recovery by 2023
East Bay: Full employment recovery by the end of 2022 or early 2023
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