The L.A. regional economy continued a slow recovery last month as spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant gave rise to concerns about further business restrictions, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. reported.During an Aug. 23 economic briefing, which reviewed numbers from the prior month, LAEDC said the unemployment rate of the county at 10.2 percent for July, a slight decrease from June’s 10.5 percent rate.
The total employment rate is still down by 9.7 percent from the pre-pandemic peak seen in December 2019.“Throughout the pandemic we experienced the greatest job loss associated with the measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus between March and April, when more than 772,000 jobs fell off county non-farm payrolls. Since then, we've added just over 45 percent of those jobs back between May of 2020 and July of this year,” Shannon Sedgwick, director of LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics, said during the meeting. “When we compare to pre-pandemic data, we see that overall employment in L.A. County remains significantly down across many industries. Almost all industry sectors are still experiencing employment contractions, especially accommodation and food services, which is still down by more than 81,000 jobs from pre-pandemic levels.”Personal service businesses, the manufacturing sector and information industry — which includes the local film and television economy — continue to report fewer than 50 percent of jobs recovered, Sedgwick said. Those sectors’ recovery, she reiterated, remains impacted by the public health crisis and worsening reports of spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus.The Delta variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Los Angeles, accounting for 98.2 percent of new cases the week ending Aug. 28, according to CDC data. While most L.A. County business restrictions were lifted in June, the rise of the variant led to reinstating mask requirements and continued economic uncertainty.“The Delta variant is the new villain in our story of economic recovery with this latest wave of infections, leading to reinstated mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status, and giving rise to concerns that higher rates of new daily cases may result in further restrictions ahead,” Sedgwick said. “Our recovery is still fragile and moving backwards would be devastating to individuals seeking employment and businesses who just started to see activity levels return as all capacity restrictions were suspended in June.”