Westside sees 14.2 percent job loss, after LA regains 66k jobs since May

Story by Kellie Chudzinski | Graphics by Lydia You

Left: The estimated numbers and percentages of job loss across Westside neighborhoods since February 2020 (Source: Ron Galperin, LA Controller).
Right: The change in number of jobs between June and July 2020, categorized by industry in nine Westside neighborhoods (Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Westchester, Playa Vista, Del Rey, Mar Vista, Venice, West Los Angeles and Palms). Of approximately 50,000 California jobs regained in June, 3600 were in these neighborhoods. (Source: Ron Galperin, LA Controller).

Los Angeles is facing unprecedented unemployment rates after the coronavirus pandemic saw business closures and revenue losses.

City Controller Ron Galperin released updated data on July 30 that showed Los Angeles to be experiencing an average 13.5% job loss citywide. The latest update comes after the City initially lost 268,000 jobs in March and April, but rebounded slightly to see 16,000 jobs added in May and 50,000 added in June.

In June, LA County reported 19.5% unemployment, slightly down from the high of 20.9% in May.

The addition of jobs aligned with “Safer at Home” orders loosening and allowing in-door dining and other businesses to reopen. Though, the report notes, “the staying power of the gains is in question,” as businesses again had to readjust and close.

“It is painfully clear that the pandemic has taken a steep toll on people’s lives and the local and national economies,” Galperin wrote in an earlier job loss report.

Silicon Beach and Westside neighborhoods fell in the midrange of job loss rates for the city, with Venice experiencing the highest rate of job loss (15%) and Westchester experiencing the lowest loss (13.4%) in the area. Council District 11, which comprises a majority of the Westside but excludes the City of Santa Monica, saw an overall job loss rate of 14.2%.

With Silicon Beach being home to over 500 companies, raising billions of dollars in recent years, the related industries seem to have fared better than the range of others included in Galperin’s report.

Citywide, that sector, including professional, scientific and technical services, regained nearly 4,000 jobs, an increase of 4%, but is still down over 10,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

In another recent report, the Southern Association of Governments estimated that due to the “rapid adoption of telework,” professional and business services were able to operate near 80% capacity and will reach 95% during recovery.

Across the country, however, the technology sector lost over 181,000 jobs since the pandemic hit, according to InsiderPro.

Notably, educational services was the only sector that lost jobs overall in June, losing 3,600 and 16,000 since the start of the pandemic.

The “accommodation and food service” industry had the highest rate of loss overall, and the largest gain in June. The sector regained 21,000 jobs but is still down by over 50,000 jobs, with 3,400 of those losses being on the Westside.

Venice remains the Westside neighborhood with the highest rate of job loss, down to 15% in June from 18.4% in the previous month, with the hospitality and “information” sectors most heavily impacted.

Though data for Santa Monica’s job losses were not available, SCAG’s report noted that the city had 17% of residents and 25% of the workforce in industries “deeply impacted” by the pandemic.

The lowest rate of job loss in the city was the northern area of Pacoima with 11.8% loss, while Toluca Lake and the Hollywood Hills saw 17.2% and 16.9% losses, respectively, the highest end of the spectrum.

Galperin noted that “the impact is particularly acute in the central, southern and northeastern parts of the City, areas with higher concentrations of African American and Latino families, immigrants, low-income renters and single-parent households…”

While the national unemployment rate fell from 14.7% in April to 11.1% in June, Los Angeles County reported a high of almost 20% unemployment the same month, which more than quadrupled the pre-pandemic rate of 4.4%, and remained higher than California’s overall 14.9% unemployment rate.

While June saw an improvement in job gains, the area’s 19.5% unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the pre-COVID-19 record of 13.1%, set in 2010 at the height of the Great Recession.

“America lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, including hundreds of thousands in the City of Los Angeles,” Galperin said. “Something we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.”

Galperin continued to say he hoped the report would help direct the city support to communities in greatest need.

“It is my hope that understanding which neighborhoods are most impacted will help city leaders pinpoint areas of LA that need additional resources to recover from the fallout of COVID-19,” he said. “We have to be a city that not only speaks of equality but acts to promote it.”

“Job losses in Los Angeles County have been dramatic,” said Emma Davis, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University. “While it will take some time before L.A.’s economy to recover from this pandemic, the unemployment rate will continue to be volatile until this virus is under control, and it is safe to open the entire country again.”

Davis went on to say that some job losses will never fully recover due to the “new norm of social distancing,” and businesses struggling now may recover in the long-term “if and when” the city can “fully open back up.”

As the state turns to recovery during reopening phases, SCAG’s report estimated the unemployment rate in Los Angeles County would fall to 12.0% in 2021, adding 378,300 jobs, if no second or third waves of the pandemic cause more shutdowns.

SCAG’s report also anticipates that “the pandemic’s economic impacts are likely to be severe and long-lasting.”

Visit lacontroller.org/joblosses to learn more and see numbers as they are updated.