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Pandemic Hit California Jobs Harder Than Originally Estimated

Employment growth in the state from December 2019 to 2020 was revised down from -8 percent to -9.2 percent. This revision translates into 206,500 more California jobs lost during the year than the employment development department originally estimated.

Typically, annual revisions show greater job losses than initially reported during recession periods, so this downward adjustment was somewhat expected. At the same time, the revised figures show the true magnitude of the hole that COVID left in the state.

“As it turns out, the labor market fallout in 2020 was significantly worse in California than originally estimated,” said Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon Economics and the UCR Center.

But, a modest recovery is underway and with new COVID cases falling in the state, accompanied by a loosening of health-mandated business restrictions, the labor market should post a strong recovery in 2021. However, state employment growth is nearly 2 million jobs behind so the labor market is unlikely to fully bounce back in 2021.

“While we expect a strong recovery in the labor market in 2021, it would take a hiring surge of unprecedented proportions to return the labor market to trend this year,” said Osman. “In fact, we’ll do well to just recover all the jobs lost in 2020 this year, never mind returning to trend.”


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About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown has decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing management with organizations including Coldwell Banker Residential, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus & Millichap, NAIOP, SIOR and ALM. In those positions, she worked in conjunction with chief executive officers and chief marketing officers to create corporate messaging, cohesive branding standards, strategic marketing plans and thought pieces. Brown is a frequent speaker at industry events and an editing adjunct professor for an online course. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

  • ◦Economy