LAEDC CEO Bill Allen highlighted at-risk jobs and industries, and the need to help lower income people of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, when he addressed the business task force being established by LA County and the Board of Supervisors.
In a report to the LA County Board of Supervisors, Bill Allen thanked the Board and the task force, and he presented facts about the economic crisis, stating more than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed in L.A. County to date, and more than 75% of the projected job losses have an average annual earning of less than $50,000, with restaurants and retail industries hit the hardest. His points included that when the economy re-opens, we will need to reinvent the economy in many ways, “Today we are particularly focused on creating not only a more globally competitive and vibrant economy, but one that is more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.”
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Bill Allen provided additional details:
The industry sectors at highest risk for layoffs include: accommodation and food services, retail trade, arts, entertainment and recreation, personal services, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and transportation. These sectors represent hundreds of thousands of our businesses, large and small, which in many cases have seen their very viability as ongoing enterprises threatened. Remember that 93% of our businesses in LA County employ less than 20 workers and tend to have very little capital in reserve to withstand such shocks.
The occupations, which include food preparation and serving related jobs, retail sales and related jobs, office and administrative support, personal care and service, transportation and material moving, and healthcare support represent the vast majority of the more than 1 million jobs already lost in our county. And all of those categories have median annual income less than $50,000 leaving the individuals who held these jobs with very little savings to fall back on during such a stressful time.
The demographics we have provided you represent us and our neighbors, the working people of Los Angeles County. Substantially more than 1 million of our neighbors have already filed initial claims for unemployment here in Los Angeles County and that number continues to rise. Behind each of those numbers is a person, a family, a community impacted by the virus.
In those figures, the young adult workforce under the age of 25 years old are filing for unemployment at a much higher rate than those in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. A greater percentage of women in the workforce have filed for unemployment than we are seeing in the male cohort in the workforce. And a greater share of those in the Asian and Black cohorts in the LA County labor force have filed for unemployment insurance than we see in the white or Hispanic labor cohorts. LAEDC cautions against any assumption that Hispanic or Latino workers have not been disproportionately impacted. It is more likely that they have not been filing for all the relief they are entitled to and collectively we have to do a better job of outreach to ensure they file for their unemployment benefits.
As a people, we have all withdrawn from social and economic activity to help slow the spread of the virus but for some of us that has come at a far greater cost than others.
The data in the slides (above) shows that lower income people of color have been particularly disproportionately impacted by a reduction in their hours or by furloughs or layoffs. This is because they are disproportionately represented in our service industries which have been most heavily impacted by the shut-down orders. And again these cohorts of our neighbors impacted tend to have the least individual and family savings with which to withstand the economic shock of loss of income or loss of a job.
So our work together in the coming weeks to help get more sectors of our economy, and more enterprises within those sectors to reopen, and reinvent themselves so as to enhance the safety of their workers and their customers during the ongoing battle with this virus and make themselves more sustainable, inclusive and resilient in the future will be deeply impactful on the lives of more than one million of our neighbors.
We at the LAEDC have a great deal more information on the sectors, occupations and demographics of our labor force available on our website at LAEDC.org to support your working groups in the weeks ahead. LAEDC salutes the service of the task force, our Board of Supervisors, and all the leaders in our region working together, and look forward to the ways you will recommend we not just reopen or restart our economy, but reinvent it so that it cannot just recover in the months ahead but enjoy a true resurgence and real resilience in the future.
Learn more about these topics and gain insights from LAEDC’s continuing free webinars on the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. These webinars will increasingly discuss re-opening, recovery and related considerations. Register for the June 1st webinar HERE, and check for further updates on the LAEDC webpage LAEDC.org/coronavirus .