California added jobs at three times the nation’s rate last month as teachers returned to classrooms, entertainment venues reopened and summer vacationers traveled despite a spike in COVID infections -19.
Salaried jobs in the state increased by 104,300 in August to a total of 16.63 million, accounting for 44% of employment growth in the United States, officials reported. The nation’s employment recovery was surprisingly slow last month, as vaccination rates in many states were lower than in California.
As of this week, two-thirds of California’s population have received at least one inoculation of the virus. Still, with the Delta variant of COVID-19 continuing to spread and vaccine resistance persisting, economists have said the state’s recovery may remain uneven.
“The California economy now faces greater concerns about the Delta variant than it did in the second week of August when the employment data was collected., ” said Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. “The impact of reopening schools on infection rates and weakening consumer confidence could weigh on the short-term economic outlook.”
Last month, the Golden State had recovered just 62% of the 2.7 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when the pandemic took hold.
Its unemployment rate remained high: 7.5%, down slightly from 7.6% in July but down from 12.3% the previous year. Nationally, unemployment in August stood at 5.2%.
In California, “another large-scale economic shutdown is highly unlikely, but future economic growth could slow as long as the new virus remains a serious concern,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Loyola Marymount University. “The cloud cover has not disappeared.”
Public schools accounted for 46,900 jobs, nearly 45% of California’s net job growth last month. “It’s probably a one-time gain that won’t be repeated,” said Scott Anderson, an economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.
Apart from leisure and hospitality companies, which added 33,100 jobs, he said, hiring in other sectors was “quite anemic”. Supply chain bottlenecks, port backlogs and COVID fears are increasingly weighing on California’s economic outlook. “
Business travel and tourism, mainstays of California’s economy, dried up from March of last year. But this year, domestic leisure travel has picked up, sports venues have reopened, and jobs have started to return.
By mid-year, about half of the 30,000 members of Unite Here Local 11, one of Southern California’s largest unions, had returned to work in hotels, stadiums, airport concessions and transportation centers. Congress.
“We felt relatively positive before the Delta surge,” said Kurt Petersen, union co-chair. “But Delta pulled us back, due to a group of stubborn people refusing to get the shot.”
Convention centers remain dark, corporate groups are canceling reservations, international travel is virtually non-existent and tourism is not expected to fully rebound for two years, he said.
“Large swaths of workers have not worked at all since March 2020, and two-thirds of our members who have returned to work have fewer hours than before the pandemic.”
Numerous hotel chains have removed automatic daily room service, cleaning ladies therefore work three days instead of five days, Petersen said. “They can’t survive on this. And the work is harder because a room that has not been cleaned for days is often a pigsty.
The recovery is expected to remain uneven. Professionals and tech workers who can operate from home have kept their jobs, along with workers classified as essential, from grocery clerks to warehouse packers.
Servicon, a Culver City company that cleans hospitals, aerospace factories and office buildings in Southern California, has added 400 janitors since the start of the pandemic, bringing its total workforce to 2,000.
“The economy has swerved, but we are in demand,” Servicon chairman Michael Mahdesian said. “After years of being told to be invisible, customers now want us to disinfect and clean. They want to give their employees confidence that buildings are healthy.
Mahdesian is concerned about the short-term impact of the Delta variant. “It slows down the recovery,” he said. “But California is better off than other states at getting people vaccinated. States like Texas and Florida are a mess.
He applauds President Biden’s pressure to get healthcare workers, government contractors and workers in big business getting vaccinated. And he expects Congress to pass infrastructure bills that will send billions of dollars to California and other states. “So I am optimistic for the future,” he said.
State data comes from a federal survey of 80,000 California businesses. The unemployment rate is taken from a separate survey of 5,100 California households.