Data shows that the leisure and hospitality industries continue to struggle as the pandemic’s effects hit unequally in the economy. The graphic displays recent payrolls as a percentage of what they were in February 2020, before public health orders shut down businesses. Photo credit: Courtesy

Experts on the local economy say San Diego’s job trends indicate that the pandemic has forced some workers out of the labor market while others who have been furloughed may face job losses.

A total of 30,000 San Diegans have dropped out of the workforce since February, the experts said. The reasons range from COVID-19 fears to caring for aging parents or educating children who must take classes at home with schools closed.

For those seeking opportunities, though, said Mel Katz, executive officer of Manpower West, wages are rising in an effort to pull workers back into the market.

“While there are lots of production jobs available, San Diegans are still hesitant to go back to work,” Katz said. “We are seeing hourly wages increasing by two or more dollars per hour to entice workers to leave home and enter the workforce.”

Nationally though, the outlook appears grim for furloughed workers awaiting word about returning to work. Permanent job losses have risen sharply since July.

Lynn Reaser, chief economist of the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University, calls it “another disconcerting recent trend.”

Peter Callstrom, CEO of San Diego Workforce Partnership, sees employment trending down in certain industries, but encourages workers to “make a move” if they are interested in the energy, utilities, or construction fields.

“We have seen a recent rise in layoff notices in local companies related to tourism, air travel, aerospace engineering, and manufacturing,” he said. “Hiring in construction, energy, and utilities remains strong and we are working on several large recruitments and short-term training programs for new workers in these fields.”

Reaser said questions about the ongoing effects of the pandemic could lead even healthy businesses to put off hiring. Others, short of cash, will be vulnerable to failure. Both situations likely will limit any chances for local job growth.

“Uncertainty and fear are the economy’s nemesis,”  Reaser said.

– Staff reports

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