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Dire Forecast: New Report Estimates Coronavirus Will Push Unemployment Over 31% In SoCal

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Note: If you have a question about dealing with unemployment during the pandemic, we're hosting a livestreamed Q&A on Thursday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. with a guest from the California Employment Development Department. Send us your questions and get more details about the event here.

A new report from an L.A. County nonprofit estimates the economic slowdown and safety measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic will devastate the workforce in Southern California, causing 2,816,700 jobs to disappear by May and pushing unemployment past 31%.

For comparison, Los Angeles County unemployment peaked at 12.6% during the height of the recession, in 2010-11.

The worst fallout will be felt by "personal care and service" workers — like hair stylists and nail artists — where the virus is expected to cause the loss of 70% of jobs.

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The job categories with the most total losses will be food prep and serving, sales, and administrative support workers.

The report notes:

...the immediate economic effects of COVID-19 have not been equally distributed. Higher-income workers in professional services, management, and computer and mathematical occupations have thus far managed to shift to a remote workplace...In stark contrast, lower income workers in personal care, retail, and food preparation occupations do not have the option to complete their duties without interacting with the public...Those willing and able to retain their jobs in these occupations do so with the health risk associated of being exposed to the public.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), a nonprofit that collaborates with public and private stakeholders in the county to guide economic development, published the report this evening.

“Please note, these are preliminary estimates of what the job loss related to COVID-19 could look like in May under current conditions,” said LAEDC’s Lawren Markle.

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“Estimates are based on proximity of work required for occupations and the identification of “high risk” industries to create probabilities that are then applied to occupational data to create these figures,” she explained.

The estimates could change drastically depending on policy response from lawmakers or changing timelines for restarting economic activity, the report notes.

The report forecasts widespread pain throughout the region:

You can dig into the full report here: