Southern California retail jobs surpass pre-pandemic levels – San Bernardino Sun

What appears to be a strong holiday shopping season has pushed the payrolls of Southern California retailers above pre-pandemic employment levels.

In November, traders in the four-county area added 23,400 workers, compared with a growing monthly 7,600 jobs during the recovery. November has traditionally been a big hiring month for retailers, with an average of 28,000 workers added since 2000 to keep up with the buying rush.

November’s hiring surge took retailer staff to 740,600, up 2,200 from February 2020, before the economy was hampered by the coronavirus. At worst in April 2020, the retail sector was at 80% of employment before the pandemic.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with state employment figures released on Friday, December 17, revealed that bosses across all industries in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties created 68,000 jobs in November. SoCal’s 7.57 million employees for November rose 0.9% in a month and 5.7% in a year.

The region-wide hiring rate was down from 97,900 jobs created in October, but above the monthly average of 47,200 since the start of the job recovery after the closures in spring 2020. Economic challenges linked to the pandemic are leaving the region 318,400 workers short of jobs before the coronavirus – or 96% of February 2020 levels.

Southern California’s combined unemployment rate for November was 6.16% – a pandemic-era low – from a revised rate of 6.91% the month before, according to the spreadsheet. The rate was 4.17% in February 2020 and peaked at 17.14% in May 2020.

Yet this is a split recovery. Employment in restaurants, tourism and entertainment stands at 822,200, or 86% of the workforce before the pandemic compared to 97% for the rest of the economy.

And these “fun” companies – with 11% of local jobs – are again sluggish. They added just 200 workers last month as an expected seasonal season was amplified by renewed coronavirus fears and persistent business limitations.

Here’s how employment in Southern California fared in leisure and hospitality niches in November …

Restaurants: Last month, 86% of the employment level before the virus, compared to the pandemic low of 56%. The 588,600 workers are down 92,100 from February 2020. This is after adding 1,100 last month against 10,300 growing monthly jobs during the recovery.

Hotels: 77% of jobs before the virus – up from a pandemic low of 41%. The 74,300 workers are down 22,600 from February 2020. This is after a drop of 200 last month against 1,300 jobs growing monthly during the recovery.

Arts, entertainment and recreation: 91% of jobs before the virus – up from a pandemic low of 42%. The 159,300 workers are down 15,600 from February 2020. This is after falling 700 last month against 2,900 growing monthly jobs during the recovery.

And hiring trends in other key SoCal categories …

Transport / warehouses: 118% of jobs before the virus – up from a pandemic low of 93%. The 449,500 workers are up 68,900 from February 2020. This is after adding 16,700 last month against 4,800 growing monthly jobs during the recovery.

Health, personal services: 100% of pre-virus employment level compared to a pandemic low of 91%. The 1,168,700 workers are up 1,300 from February 2020. This is after adding 6,900 last month against 5,400 jobs growing monthly during the recovery.

Business services: 98% of jobs before the virus against a pandemic low of 87%. The 1,118,000 workers are down 21,700 from February 2020. This is after adding 10,000 last month against 6,400 jobs growing monthly during the recovery.

Construction, real estate, finance: 96% of jobs before the virus against a pandemic low of 89%. The 647,400 workers are down 26,600 from February 2020. This is after a drop of 3,900 last month against 2,500 jobs growing monthly during the recovery.

Government: 95% of jobs before the virus against a pandemic low of 86%. The 981,300 workers are down 50,500 from February 2020. That’s after adding 10,800 last month versus 1,300 jobs per month during the recovery.

Manufacturing: 93% of jobs before the virus against a pandemic low of 88%. The 555,100 workers are down 41,300 from February 2020. This is after adding 800 last month against 1,500 jobs growing monthly during the recovery.

And the employment models, geographically speaking …

Los Angeles County: 95% of pre-virus jobs – down 251,500 after adding 42,800 last month. Recovery rate? Up to 26,000 per month. Unemployment? 7.1% this month against 7.8% the previous month against 11.9% a year earlier.

Orange County: 97% of pre-virus jobs – down from 57,200 after adding 9,500 last month. Recovery rate? Up to 10,700 per month. Unemployment? 4.1% this month against 4.7% the previous month against 6.6% a year earlier.

Riverside and San Bernardino counties: 99% of pre-virus jobs – down 9,700 after adding 15,700 last month. Recovery rate? Up to 10,500 per month. Unemployment? 5.4% this month against 6.3% the previous month against 7.8% a year earlier.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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