Providing fun has again fueled southern California’s pandemic-era jobs with nearly half of May’s hires from the leisure and hospitality industries previously hammered by ‘stay at home’ orders and a reluctance to travel.
My trusty spreadsheet, filled with state employment figures, revealed that local bosses had 7.28 million employees last month in the four counties covered by the Southern California News Group. This is an increase of 69,700 in one month against 69,400 hires in April and an average monthly hiring rate of 50,100 during the recovery of last year.
Letting various attractions reopen with limited capacity has helped spur another wave of hiring in Southern California as most coronavirus-related business limitations have been relaxed or lifted. California became almost fully reopened on June 15.
Recent hires reduced Southern California’s unemployment rate in May to 8.7% from a revised 9.44% the month before. But that’s a far cry from 4.2% in February 2020, the last time the economy was not hampered by the virus. The peak of the pandemic era was 17.1% in May 2020.
In addition, the region has experienced a very fractional employment recovery with lagging employment in restaurants, tourism and entertainment. These “fun” companies had 746,100 workers last month, 78% of the workforce before the pandemic, compared to 94% for the rest of the economy.
But “fun” businesses are coming back. They may only have 10% of local jobs, but “fun” employers added 32,200 workers last month, or 46% of hires in the region. In the past four months, “fun” was linked to 54% of all hires.
Here’s how employment fared in the “fun” niches of the Southern California job market in May…
Restaurants: Last month, 81% of the employment level before the virus was down 128,000 workers from February 2020. That’s after adding 13,000 last month. In this rebound, jobs over the past year have grown an average of 12,200 per month.
Hotels: 65% of pre-virus jobs down 33,800 after adding 6,200 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 1,000 per month.
Arts, entertainment and recreation: 74% of pre-virus jobs down 44,600 after adding 13,000 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 2,000 per month.
And hiring trends in other key SoCal job categories …
Transport / warehouses: 108% of employment before the virus up 32,100 from February 2020. That’s after adding 2,600 last month. In this rebound, jobs over the past year have grown an average of 4,300 per month.
Health, personal services: 99% of pre-virus level down 13,700 after adding 7,400 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 6,700 per month.
Construction, real estate, finance: 96% of pre-virus jobs down 25,800 after adding 300 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 3,600 per month.
Retail business : 94% of pre-virus jobs down 45,400 after losing 200 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 7,400 per month.
Business services: 94% of pre-virus jobs down from 64,200 after adding 7,200 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 6,100 per month.
Government: 93% of pre-virus jobs down 74,200 after adding 8,300 last month. The average of the rebound? Down 3,500 per month.
Manufacturing: 92% of pre-virus jobs down 49,000 after adding 5,700 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 1,500 per month.
In SoCal metropolitan areas…
Los Angeles County: At 91% of jobs before the virus, they are still down by 434,000 in the era of the pandemic, even after adding 41,000 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 24,200 per month. Unemployment? 10.1% against 11.2% the previous month.
Orange County: 93% of the pre-virus level or a loss of 113,100 after adding 19,100 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 11,300 per month. Unemployment? 5.9% against 6.2% the previous month.
Riverside and San Bernardino counties: 96% of the pre-virus level or a loss of 63,500 after adding 9,600 last month. The average of the rebound? Up to 11,100 per month. Unemployment? 7.2% against 7.5% the previous month.
Jonathan Lansner is an economics columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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