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Lives On Hold After The Worst Jobs Report In Recent Memory

Closed shopfronts in L.A.'s fashion district (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
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On Friday morning, the federal government released the worst jobs report since the Great Depression. National unemployment skyrocketed to 14.7% in April. Governor Gavin Newsom says California is looking at an 18% unemployment rate here in California for the year.

These numbers are huge — unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. They reveal that more Californians are out of work now than during the last recession.

Layoffs have been widespread in many public-facing businesses. About 5.5 million jobs were lost nationally in restaurants and bars alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retail stores, hotels, education and health services also saw large job losses.

The entertainment industry has been hit especially hard, with 1.3 million workers in that field losing their job nationally. One of them is Sarah Taylor, who co-owns Readymix Music, a recording studio in North Hollywood, with her husband.

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“We can't do anything,” said Taylor.

The studio has been sitting idle for nearly two months, and Taylor and her husband are not about to squeeze a bunch of musicians into the studio wearing masks and gloves.

“We have a big gospel clientele,” she said. “So, we have big groups of singers that come in and record. And we can't do that. I mean, there’s no way.”

Taylor has struggled to secure benefits from California’s unemployment office, because her income has come from a mix of self-employment through running the studio and W-2 residuals from past work in the entertainment industry.

Meanwhile, Taylor and her husband still have to pay rent for their studio space every month. She said this is the longest they’ve gone without recording, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how to safely get musicians back in for sessions.

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