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The Fragile Pandemic Recovery Is Leaving LA's Small Businesses Behind

Four people wearing colorful masks walk past a business with a big banner reading: "WE ARE OPEN! WELCOME BACK" and a sign on the boardwalk lists "Health and safety requirements."
The Santa Monica Pier reopened in late June 2020 following a more than three month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses have been slow to recover in L.A. County.
AFP via Getty Images)
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L.A.'s economic recovery from the pandemic is fragile and — this is key — it's not taking place across the board.

That was the message this week from economists with L.A. County's Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)

The organization estimates the county lost about 772,000 jobs at the onset of the pandemic. More than a year later, fewer than half of those jobs have returned — and most that did are high-wage positions that allow people to work from home.

Personal spending has bounced back, but agency CEO Bill Allen says small businesses aren't reaping the benefits.

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"It appears to be largely due to the fact that consumers shifted their buying behaviors to online ordering and deliveries from large national and multi-national retailers like Amazon and Walmart and so many others," Allen said at a Monday briefing.

That shift in habits has moved consumers "away from patronizing our local neighborhood small businesses, especially when those businesses were shuttered during the stay-at-home orders."

Small business revenues are down 40% statewide, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Here in Los Angeles, some of the largest industries — including entertainment and tourism — continue to struggle. LAEDC economists expect that it'll take until 2023 or even 2024 for the county's economy to fully recover.

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Watch the full briefing:

What questions do you have about Southern California?