Unemployment in Long Beach continues to decline but remains higher than Los Angeles County and the state as a whole, which itself ranks among the highest in the country at 7.3%, according to data recently released by the California Economic Development Department.
Long Beach’s unemployment rate edged down to 8.5% in October, from 8.9% the month before. The new figure is a significant improvement from the peak of 19% in May 2020, but still well above the 4.8% just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s labor force fell from 400 to 235,900 from September to October. The labor force may decline due to retirements and the unemployed who stop looking for work.
Over 71% of California cities and designated census locations (locally recognized communities identified by name but were unincorporated at the time of the 2015-19 U.S. Community Survey) fare better than Long Beach in terms of unemployment, according to data from the EDD. . Almost 27% are lagging behind the city.
Two regions, Pomona and Walnut Park, also have an unemployment rate of 8.5%.
Unemployment in LA County fell from 8.2% in September to 7.8% in October, according to data from the EDD. The county’s labor force declined by 7,200 to 4,632,800, leaving 394,500 people unemployed.
California continues to lead the country in its recovery, accounting for 18.2% of the country’s overall job gains in October, according to Beacon Economics. Statewide, the total number of non-farm jobs increased by 96,800 positions. But growth has not made up for losses amid the pandemic. In October, the state had 886,300 fewer people than in February 2020.
The job gains in the state were driven by an increase in household employment (37,500) and a decrease of 8,400 people in the labor force. Other big gains have been made in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, including leisure and hospitality, but the sector remains nearly 17% below pre-pandemic levels, according to Beacon.
“It is almost two years since the world was hit by the pandemic and the unemployment rate in California remains stubbornly high,” said Taner Osman, director of research at Beacon and the UC Riverside Center for Forecasting, in a communicated. “Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes here and we expect unemployment to remain high until 2022.”
Although there are 20,100 unemployed residents in Long Beach, many companies, especially those offering minimum wage, are struggling to recruit. A sign posted outside Archibald’s on Second Street in Belmont Shore says the fast-casual restaurant will remain closed until spring 2022 due to a staff shortage.
Extended unemployment benefits dried up months ago, leaving business owners and economists to just speculate on why so many people are delaying returning to work. Nick Schultz, executive director of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment network, previously said he believed the reluctance stems from concerns about health and safety, a concept that has recently expanded to include those who are resign or be fired from their job on vaccination mandates.
In one recent interview with CNBCGlassdoor’s senior economist Daniel Zhao said wages may not be high enough to entice workers to return. Zhao noted that corporate profits and productivity have increased more than average wages over the past two years, which should allow employers to offer more wage increases.
Other possible reasons people have delayed returning to work, Zhao said, are increasing savings amid the pandemic, providing cushion and caring responsibilities for children.
“Getting people back to work isn’t something you can do with the snap of a finger,” Zhao told CNBC.