Marin County nears recovery of jobs lost in pandemic recession
While it took 58 months for Marin County to recover after the 2007–2009 Great Recession, it in just 18 months regained 96.1% of the jobs lost when a significant portion of commerce was shut down to slow the coronavirus pandemic, according to a snapshot of the local economy presented Monday.
This so-called V-shaped recovery from COVID’s economic impact January 2020 employment benchmark as of September 2021 leaves the county with only 5,300 jobs to be filled at the current 3.9% unemployment rate to have it return to 2020 totals, according to California Employment Development Department data cited during a Marin Economic Forum event.
“Marin County’s current economic recovery, as in other recoveries since 1990, is outperforming the region and state in most categories and is likely to continue to emerge well, according to the latest revenue and job recovery data,” said forum CEO Mike Blakeley, who presented his remarks during a webinar with Sonoma State University economist Robert Eyler.
However even with this comeback, the county still does not have enough workers to fill available jobs. Blakeley added that while hiring totals are generally flat, numbers of those quitting jobs is surging, and the job market continues to be volatile as some people seek other opportunities.
Eyler said his analysis of labor force dynamics data suggests there has been “sustained change” in the number of local and statewide residents available for work.
“Jobs lost are a mix of local residents and workers coming from outside the county,” he said.
Easing COVID-19 regulations, along with a rise in travel levels, is part of the reason for jobs coming back, especially in the leisure and hospitality industry, Elyer said.
Blakeley said an impact analysis shows Marin is recovering, as evidenced by a 10% increase in sales tax revenues in 2020, and the fact that wages have increased and jobs are available, even though many positions remain unfilled.
According to Blakeley, foot traffic is up 102% at Village of Corte Madera shopping center, with a similar 100% rise at the Vintage Oaks mall. He said other retail sectors, such as bicycle sales, are also flourishing
Overall data from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Census Bureau reveals reveal that small business owners have been especially hard hit in terms of numbers of employees impacted versus relatively larger businesses. Service industries (restaurants, hotels, motels, event centers, etc.) and manufacturing sector firms have been affected more than other industry categories.
“Multi-layers in the supply-chain have to work together to get back to meeting demand. A manufacturing slowdown in Europe or China, for example, carries over to affect the U.S. and firms around the globe, such as the shortage of semiconductor computer chips limiting car sales here,” Eyler noted. “Manufacturing and shipping entities must be as efficient as possible to keep pace with customer preferences in a timely manner.”
Marin’s recovery strategy
Hoping to create a “roadmap” to prosperity, the Marin Economic Forum and the Marin County are partnering with the Economic Development Administration to zero in on COVID’s continuing impact on the area economy, Blakeley said. And more importantly, he said, they plan to work with the community to determine a strategy for the future economy, including what sectors should be supported, where job creation and investment can occur, and how to drive social equity in the economy.
A MEF survey with more than 800 business community responses shows that over 80% of these firms remain in business with the same or an increased staff — or are planning to increase employment opportunities. Only 2% indicated they plan to close their doors. About 57% said they had to adapt their business practices to cope with new realities, and more than 60% think they will make a full recovery within six to 12 months.
“This is good news. Few employers could say this a year ago,” Blakeley said.
At the same time, respondents revealed that they now have higher debt loads, including increased search costs for new employees.
Supply-chain issues are also reducing the flow of goods, leaving some consumers searching the goods they want and businesses forced to sell what’s on hand, Blakeley said. Retailers also face “scale” restraints associated with their ordering potential.
He gave this example: A firm ordering 30 units a month can be up against another company ordering 5,000 units, meaning small retailers are not a priority for big distributors and brands that have clients taking larger volumes.
Retailers also face “scale” restraints associated with their ordering potential.