San Diego County’s move to the purple tier, along with the loss of federal aid for businesses, is complicating the region’s recovery, according to local economic experts.
Still, job gains in the region outpaced those seen nationally and in California on a percentage basis last month. As of October, San Diego’s employment was about 92% of its February peak, slightly ahead of California. The national average sits at 93%.
The local job market improved further in October, as the region’s non-farm employers added 21,500 jobs over the prior month.
Adjusting for seasonal gains though, last month’s adjusted advance was a more moderate 13,200.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership continues though to see big layoffs in tourism-related businesses. Last month also saw some declines among defense firms, according to Daniel Enemark, a senior economist.
He also noted, “We’re hearing from local employers that the expiration of federal aid programs is forcing layoffs.”
On the positive side, the partnership has seen an uptick in demand for caregivers and general labor. For instance, Tesla plans to hire and train up to 150 solar-panel installers.
Construction remains the big local recovery success story, with jobs in numbers above its February level. Business and professional services, along with utilities, have met their pre-pandemic levels.
In sharp contrast, though leisure and hospitality continue to lag, with employment levels at less than 80% of its pre-pandemic pace.
Lynn Reaser, of Point Loma Nazarene University, points to the region’s return to the purple tier and surging COVID-19 infection rates, as reasons to expect businesses to show caution.
“The impressive progress with vaccines does bode well for the region’s future if we can manage to hold on until next spring or summer,” said Reaser, chief economist for PLNU’s Fermanian Business and Economic Institute.
– Staff reports
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