By Tim Hunt
Checking in on the regional Bay Area economiesUploaded: Sep 29, 2020
Economic recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown continued through the summer, but it will be 2021 before employment returns to the pre-pandemic levels of last February, according to a forecast from Beacon Economics,
The firm has studied the East Bay economy for years and presents its findings annually to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance. Its latest report covers two Southern California markets as well as the East Bay, South Bay and San Francisco. The report spotlights similarities and differences between the three Bay Area markets.
Notably, with public schools here still shutdown for in-classroom instruction, parents are scrambling as they strive to support their children and still do their jobs, whether working from home (easier) or having to figure out childcare and go to their jobs. That’s disrupting to all and about 25% of households have children. The announcement last week that the Pleasanton school district is planning pilot in-person instruction next month is good news—schools have been open elsewhere in the country and in Europe (for months on the continent).
The shutdown sent unemployment soaring by 11% from March to April and people have started to return to work. The unemployment rate in the East Bay fell to 10.4% by July—still higher than San Francisco (9%) and the South Bay (8.4%). Beacon called out one other factor—the job growth that was occurring before the shutdown. The East Bay was growing by a relatively modest 100 jobs per month in 2019 compared to 1,200 per month in the South Bay and 2,800 per month in San Francisco.
It estimated that it will take until May 2021 employment to return to the February 2020 level in the East Bay. The South Bay is predicted to reach that level in February 2021, while it’s a month later for San Francisco. The East Bay saw 177,000 jobs vanish compared to 137,000 for the South Bay and 176,000 for San Francisco. San Francisco was hit particularly hard in the hospitality and tourism sectors, losing 78,000 jobs and there’s no telling when that sector will return to health with big conventions going virtual and international tourism shutdown.
The Bay Area as a region is faring better that the state (13.4% unemployment), while Los Angeles County is lagging in recovery.
The August numbers also improved with jobs growing statewide by 101,900, improving by 2.1 percentage points over July.
The East Bay report also noted the economic disparities and the health outcomes in the East Bay, particularly in Alameda County where the Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Oakland have had significantly higher infection rates and job losses