Report: 350K County Jobs At Risk Of Layoffs, Reduced Hours
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / March 25, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 A deal for a federal $2 trillion stimulus package comes as the state's efforts to slow the spread of coven 19 have caused many businesses to scale back or lay off employees as they temporarily closed their doors. People who work in occupations that require customer interaction like retail and the restaurant industry have been mostly impacted. And beyond that the economic impact will be even more severe for black and Brown employees. According to a recent report from the San Diego workforce partnership, joining me is Peter call strum, CEO of the San Diego workforce partnership and Bray major chief economist at SANDAG Russ, the San Diego association of governments. Welcome to you both. Thank you very much. So Peter, I want to start with you. The workforce partnership report, uh, found that of the 10 occupations with the most jobs here in San Diego County, seven that seven are at the highest risk of being hit by layoffs, reduced hours and longterm displacement. What are those occupations that will be hit hard? Uh, according to this report,
Speaker 2: 01:09 yes, the outlook is very grim until this changes. And because of the nature of our economy with so many in the service sector, hospitality, tourism, and so forth, the restaurant work, those roles cannot work remotely for the most part. And so with so many closures, employers in many cases have no choice but to lay folks off. And we've seen an influx of reductions and warn notices, which are worker adjustment retraining notices that employers have to file and doing closures. Those have come in in an unprecedented clip. So we're seeing quite an impact already. And until this changes, that's only gonna grow. So we're really hoping for the relief that the federal government has finally acted upon and we'll be happy to talk about that. But right now we've seen so many folks displaced and we're trying to do all we can to serve both the workers and the employers affected.
Speaker 1: 02:04 And I know this impacts a lot of people. I want to remind our listeners, if you've been laid off or, or had your hours reduced, share your experience with us. The number to call is one eight, eight eight eight nine five five seven two seven. Again, that's one eight, eight eight eight, nine five five, seven two seven. Um, Peter, what was considered in determining which occupations would be hardest hit?
Speaker 2: 02:27 Oh, it just scanning all of the sectors and we have so many in this population of 3.4 million, but again, because our economy is the nature that it is with so much dependent upon tourism, I think it makes up about a third of our overall driving economies that in addition to the military and the innovation sector. So just by the nature of our economy, that's what's occurred. And with again, so many closures of these businesses, hotels and restaurants and the convention center and so many others, it has a remarkable impact in so many other fields. I do wanna outline that there's some real good news in the short term and that the state of California has really ease the process procedure for unemployment claims. So I really encourage affected workers to reach out to the EDD right away because they have changed, uh, the manner in which they go about that so that they can get funds into the hands of effected workers right away. And our site is an ongoing resource for the entire community. It's workforce.org we have updates for the business sector for employees affected and the community at large and a hotline as well for employers, which is six one nine two, two eight 29 82 and will help employers avail themselves of all the different resources from the small business administration to emergency loans and all the work that's going on to support our employment community.
Speaker 1: 03:52 I know that gives hope to a lot of people, um, as we focus in on those occupations, hardest hit, uh, I understand it could create a domino effect and branch out to hurting other industries as well. This afternoon, the Senate, you know, is voting on a $2 trillion stimulus package, do you think that will help to slow that domino effect?
Speaker 2: 04:13 Well, the domino effect is currently happening and of course because we're, we're all in the self quarantine and the stay at home orders. So the impact has been really, really hard. And uh, that domino effect is continuing and we hope again with some measures and some relief from the crisis, we're all facing that that can change. But in the short term it's, it's hitting hard where again, seeing unprecedented numbers of layoffs and workers being effected and employers at the same time. So it's a very tough time to be quite honest and we are still optimistic that we'll get better. But in the short term, there's a lot of pain for, for everyone. And so, uh, we are optimistic with the, the act that the Senate is taking because it does have some very positive news to provide some infusion of capital to workers and employers. So if this goes through and they can release the funds and support our community, then we're going to have the capital to be able to stay strong through a very tough time.
Speaker 1: 05:15 And Ray, I want to bring you in. How does the loss of jobs and reduced hours in the occupations, Peter was talking about impact the overall economy in the County?
Speaker 3: 05:27 Well, currently we've only been shut down for a couple of weeks and there has been a significant impact just in these last couple of weeks. Um, if this continues for, for any prolonged period of time, say even into mid April, we will probably be looking at going into a recession and the depth of that recession, whether it would be a mild or a moderate or a severe recession, is going to depend a lot on how long this shutdown lasts. Uh, but with, I think you're going to see many more people lose their jobs or become unemployed, uh, in the, in the next couple of weeks as this plays out.
Speaker 1: 06:07 You know, I mean, Ray, how do you think the federal $2 trillion stimulus package will impact the County?
Speaker 3: 06:13 Well, hopefully it has positive effects. I mean when, when that's passed, there'll be money coming in to help those people who are most in need, which are the ones that Peter was referring to previously, that people who are in the lowest income brackets, those in retail, food preparation, waitresses, weight waiters, those types of people will, will be benefiting from that $2 trillion package. So in that case, it gives them a lifeline. It gives them the ability to hopefully make it, make it through this. But I think that again, in the, in the longer term, I think you're going to see a significant change in the landscape when it comes to the type of restaurants that we have in San Diego. A small independent businesses that are hit very hard. They won't have the cash for the reserves to be able to make it through this.
Speaker 1: 07:03 Mm. Do you think, uh, it will help the U S get out of a recession faster?
Speaker 3: 07:09 The $2 trillion stimulus? I think any, anything at this point would, would be helpful. I think really the unknown of when we're going to be able to go back to work is going to be the key. But with that said, you know, any amount of money that they're, that they're putting, pumping into the economy right now would be helpful. And it's, and, and in many of the programs that I saw that were included in that 2 billion are impacting the people who need it the most, which is the, the, um, the people who are right now are losing their jobs.
Speaker 1: 07:44 Mmm. And, uh, we have a caller, Robbie from Rolando. He is on the phone. Uh, Robbie, can you hear me?
Speaker 4: 07:50 I can hear you. Okay.
Speaker 1: 07:52 Hey there. Uh, what is your question or, or comment?
Speaker 4: 07:56 Well, it was telling me that is this, you know, because we keep hearing on the news all about all these restaurants and movie entertainment areas and stuff. But, um, I, I basically do glass out. I've been doing glass out in San Diego for over 30 years, and I have a retail glass shop where I sell, um, uh, sell. And I teach people how to do, to create art. And, um, basically my business is pretty much shut down. A lot of my business is based on students from schools because the schools are shut down. And then of course if the distance thing and everything, um, right now my business is pretty much nothing right now. So it's pretty much shut down and, but it's kind of an important thing I think to the community too because I have a lot of, like a lot of my students and stuff, they're basically, this is what keeps them going and keeps them active. And I just wanted to try to, you know, let everybody know, you know, there are other industries out here too that we're all suffering. We have to say we're basically gone from day by day. Uh, for the most part, most people are really good to work with you on the financial part about it, but you know, we ever needed help also too because
Speaker 2: 09:03 if we're going to that, absolutely. I point you a Robbie to the small business administration, they have an economic injury disaster loan program and so they can do low interest, long term loans of up to $2 million for small businesses. So there's a resource out there to keep afloat during this time and a way to adjust your, your business model perhaps until things get back to some abnormal or normal. So there are resources out there and also the, the federal stimulus act is going to have emergency loans for small businesses if it keeps their workers. So there, there is a lifeline. They're a lot more detail has to come out through what this relief and stimulus package is. But $2 trillion is more than double what the recovery act dollars were back in Oh nine when we had the fiscal crisis. So the government is responding and they're getting getting past themselves and coming to some compromises.
Speaker 2: 09:58 So there is hope there and I think they're going to be continually reacting to the news as it unfolds every day. All right, Robin, thank you so much for your phone call. I'm Peter. You know, the report also suggests that black and Hispanic workers would be hardest hit by all of this. Why is that? It is the current demographic of who makes up more of the positions within those sectors. It's just the nature of who is in those roles right now. So when, when those closures occur, then that disproportionally impacts them because many of, um, people from different demographics, nonwhite are in these roles and they do such important work and they have done nothing that has been their fault for bringing this upon themselves, but they're suffering the most and they were some of the lower socioeconomic earners in our region to begin with. And so that's why this relief and stimulus act is so important.
Speaker 2: 10:58 Why the County has stepped up, the city has stepped up. So there is hope out there for everyone affected. If we can all just hang in together through this crisis, we will be better for it. But right now it hurts. It's scary. And we're here for the entire community. So again, I'd really encourage anyone who needs to learn more and doesn't know where to turn to come to our site work force.org also individuals, if you're really in need of other emergency support, call two one one. They're an amazing resource. They have many, many people on staff who are a phone call away who can direct you to any number of other resources to get through childcare resources. The Y YMCA is the place to turn and we have information there again on our email@example.com so as scary as this is for the community, hang in there, reach out to your, your neighbors virtually. Of course, we don't want to do this in person until it's wise, but we're going to get through this. It's really rough right now, but we've been through other hard times in our past and we will, we will get through this,
Speaker 1: 12:00 you know, Peter, are there any systemic issues that you can point to that lead to this disparity with black and Hispanic workers being hardest hit?
Speaker 2: 12:09 Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of it comes down to just the makeup of our region and where, um, different communities have congregated and what has led to some of the disparity that Ray knows best as an economist and what, what it looks like in our region. And, uh, the, the diamond district for example, is, has far more people of color and diversity than many other regions of the County and they are less economically strong right now. And uh, again, then they get impacted far more heavily because of that. It is a socioeconomic issue. It's, it's how our region has evolved to this point and why so many people are of color are in these different positions. But the most important takeaway for me is that we have to value all of these workers despite any differences. And we have to do even more now given this crisis to support folks who were going paycheck to paycheck and, and get them through this tough time.
Speaker 2: 13:09 I also want to just emphasize one other thing for people to think about during a time like this, when we're all forced to be alone or at home. And on our own trying to figure out the next steps. And, and I would encourage anyone to think about where do they want to go next in their career. That's where we come in. So there's online resources that are free or low cost. We can point folks to that. So if you're in a position where you think you want to move on to another career and get new skills, that's what we do. And there are opportunities now during this downtime to retool re skill. Think about where you want to go in your career because as Ray pointed out, our economy, the positions are gonna be far different in the future. This is gonna force a lot of change and we don't know what that restaurant community and other sectors are going to look like.
Speaker 1: 13:58 Right? And you know what? I want to hear a, we've got a clip from a small business owner who shared with us how she's been impacted.
Speaker 2: 14:05 Take a listen.
Speaker 4: 14:07 Uh, my name is Denise Taurus. I'm the owner of pre little bartenders, which is a mobile bartending boutique. Um, I currently lost my business due to the Covance 19 virus because my business involves large groups of people. Um, my cater with a chef, bartenders and our services are provided. So without that, I no longer have an income. Um, what I've been doing since then in order to make ends meet is uh, work for Uber eats, which is not making nearly enough to cover my rent.
Speaker 1: 14:52 You know, the primary industries in San Diego County are retail, leisure and hospitality. Ray, does that make our County especially vulnerable to the economic disruption this pandemic has cost?
Speaker 3: 15:05 Well, that's true for, for many communities. Uh, that's, those are the jobs that are the largest in terms of, of raw numbers, uh, when you look at, at most metropolitan areas. But it does make us vulnerable in those sectors, especially those where there's a person to person contact and um, you know, the future will be written in the next couple of weeks in terms of how, not only how we recover from that, but how we act going forward and whether or not the social distancing is something that stays in place for a matter of months or, or the next couple of years. And it will really change the, the, the, uh, the whole landscape in terms of, of how these jobs are done.
Speaker 1: 15:47 And you know, Ray, the hit to the tourism industry is impacting County and city budgets. You are currently working to figure out how that reduction in sales tax will impact ongoing projects. Talk to me a bit about that.
Speaker 3: 16:00 Sure. So the tourism industry is one of the largest industries here in San Diego and it's virtually shut down completely. And so that will have a significant impact on not only employees who work in that industry, but uh, for the, for the cities that have those hotels and, um, recreational facilities. What we're looking at right now is what the impact is on a sales tax revenue in terms of, of uh, one of the funds that comes into, into SANDAG, especially to build the transportation infrastructure. We're trying to understand, um, the impact and all indications is that that is going to be significantly lower than we had expected in the, in the next couple of years. And again, it all depends upon the length of this, uh, crisis.
Speaker 1: 16:46 You know, and we heard from Robbie, a small business owner earlier, small businesses are going to be hit particularly hard because they have less in cash cash reserves as compared to large businesses. Ray, how much of our economy in the County relies on small businesses?
Speaker 3: 17:03 Uh, you know, more than half of the businesses in, in San Diego are small businesses or small business employers. And so, um, it's, it's a, it's a very large percentage. I mean, 95% of the businesses in San Diego have fewer than 50 people. Uh, so when you think about it that way, if you consider 50 to be a, as a small business, most of the businesses will be impacted by this. So we, we really need to look out for them and make sure that they can make it over this, uh, this crisis. This is not something that, that they created. And so we need to make sure that, that we help them through and make sure they're okay on, on the other side of this.
Speaker 1: 17:43 All right. I really appreciate your insight. I've been speaking with Peter call strum CEO, the San Diego workforce partnership and Ray major chief economists at SANDAG. That is the San Diego association of governments. Thank you both so much for joining us. Thank you. Thank you.
Among the hardest-hit occupations detailed in the report were retail salespeople, cashiers, food service and restaurant workers, office clerks, janitors, childcare workers and construction laborers.