News

New report: State job losses like 'nothing before seen'

Two Midpeninsula cities reach double-digit unemployment rates

A view of The Cardinal Hotel lobby on Oct. 3, 2019. The South Bay's leisure and hospitality industry lost 6,200 jobs in March, according to state data. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Statewide unemployment numbers for April spiked higher than projected, jumping by an unprecedented 10.2 percentage points, according to a jobs report released by California's Employment Development Department on Friday morning.

For a more detailed look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted local employment, see "Life in Quarantine: How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Silicon Valley: Labor Spotlight", the first in our interactive By The Numbers visual series that will roll out this week.

With more than 2.3 million Californians losing their jobs in April, the state's unemployment rate now stands at 15.5%, up from 5.3% in March. Two Midpeninsula cities also reached double-digits: Atherton's and East Palo Alto's unemployment rates are both now 12.4%, according to the department's data.

"The unprecedented job losses are like nothing before seen in California history in a current data series that dates back to 1976, and are a direct result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," the May 22 report states.

The number of unemployed Californians rose to almost 2.9 million in over just two months, according to the report, surpassing the previous 2.2 million peak during the Great Recession in 2010, which took more than two years to reach.

Locally, unemployment rates in cities along the Midpeninsula jumped three to five times higher than their average overall 2019 rates, which represented an all-time low. Atherton and East Palo Alto have the highest unemployment rates, while Palo Alto, at 5.5%, has the lowest among Midpeninsula cities, according to the state's unemployment claims data. Atherton reported 400 lost jobs from its workforce of 3,000; East Palo Alto showed 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 14,200; and Palo Alto reported 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 32,400.

Constructions crews work on the new California Avenue garage on April 2. Palo Alto's unemployment rate was 5.5% in April, state data shows. Photo by Gennady Sheyner.

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Every one of California's 11 industry sectors lost jobs in April, according to the report. The leisure and hospitality industry posted the largest loss with 866,200 jobs statewide, which was more than double the reported losses in the trade, transportation and utilities industries combined. Those industries saw a loss of 388,700 positions.

Leisure and hospitality and retail took the biggest hits in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, which are included in the state's data for North and South Bay Metropolitan areas. In the last two weeks of March alone, the San Mateo area lost 5,900 leisure jobs and 1,000 retail positions; the Santa Clara area lost 6,200 and 1,100 jobs respectively.

For a detailed look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the local economy, employment, education and more, see "Life in Quarantine: How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Silicon Valley," a series of interactive by-the-number graphics.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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New report: State job losses like 'nothing before seen'

Two Midpeninsula cities reach double-digit unemployment rates

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, May 22, 2020, 4:34 pm
Updated: Tue, May 26, 2020, 8:30 am

Statewide unemployment numbers for April spiked higher than projected, jumping by an unprecedented 10.2 percentage points, according to a jobs report released by California's Employment Development Department on Friday morning.

With more than 2.3 million Californians losing their jobs in April, the state's unemployment rate now stands at 15.5%, up from 5.3% in March. Two Midpeninsula cities also reached double-digits: Atherton's and East Palo Alto's unemployment rates are both now 12.4%, according to the department's data.

"The unprecedented job losses are like nothing before seen in California history in a current data series that dates back to 1976, and are a direct result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," the May 22 report states.

The number of unemployed Californians rose to almost 2.9 million in over just two months, according to the report, surpassing the previous 2.2 million peak during the Great Recession in 2010, which took more than two years to reach.

Locally, unemployment rates in cities along the Midpeninsula jumped three to five times higher than their average overall 2019 rates, which represented an all-time low. Atherton and East Palo Alto have the highest unemployment rates, while Palo Alto, at 5.5%, has the lowest among Midpeninsula cities, according to the state's unemployment claims data. Atherton reported 400 lost jobs from its workforce of 3,000; East Palo Alto showed 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 14,200; and Palo Alto reported 1,800 lost jobs out of its workforce of 32,400.

Every one of California's 11 industry sectors lost jobs in April, according to the report. The leisure and hospitality industry posted the largest loss with 866,200 jobs statewide, which was more than double the reported losses in the trade, transportation and utilities industries combined. Those industries saw a loss of 388,700 positions.

Leisure and hospitality and retail took the biggest hits in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, which are included in the state's data for North and South Bay Metropolitan areas. In the last two weeks of March alone, the San Mateo area lost 5,900 leisure jobs and 1,000 retail positions; the Santa Clara area lost 6,200 and 1,100 jobs respectively.

For a detailed look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the local economy, employment, education and more, see "Life in Quarantine: How the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Silicon Valley," a series of interactive by-the-number graphics.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Joseph E. Davis
Woodside
on May 22, 2020 at 7:23 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside
on May 22, 2020 at 7:23 pm
36 people like this

California needs to take a hard look at its minimum wage and other job killing regulations to offset some of the damage of this economic collapse. It was hard enough running a business here before, but this is just getting ridiculous.


Common sense
Palo Verde
on May 23, 2020 at 7:18 am
Common sense , Palo Verde
on May 23, 2020 at 7:18 am
24 people like this

I’m not sure why this is “news”? People are jobless because the government said you are unauthorized to work, it’s a natural progression like the sun comes up and n the morning, not news or a surprise.

Try reporting actual “news”.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 8:40 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 8:40 am
24 people like this

State job losses are down to Newsome himself and in SCC to Sarah Cody.

A 3 week shelter in place that is nearly 3 months and counting is the reason. Many of the jobless will not be able to get their former jobs back.

What we do need is increases in jobs for doing things like intense cleaning and a high tech intense cleaning company will be necessary for all public facilities, offices, schools, etc. on a regular basis.

We need to get people back to work. Those who are able to return to their previous jobs need to start. Those new businesses or those that are thriving because of the shelter in place will probably still do well as we return to work. But those who work for places that may not open for a long time such as movie theaters, concert venues, sports stadiums, etc. are going to be unemployed for a while unless they can find work in something else. If sports are going to return without fans, jobs will not be returning there until the fans return.


Dan
Professorville
on May 23, 2020 at 9:12 am
Dan, Professorville
on May 23, 2020 at 9:12 am
39 people like this

@Linda Taafe
I'm glad to see your coverage about the consequences of shelter in place vis a vis unemployment in the Palo Alto weekly even if you didn't quite make this tie in your reporting.

You quoted an official as saying unemployment is a result of Covid-19. That is not true. Record unemployment is a result of government policy in response to code in 19.

I would love to see much more reporting in the Palo Alto weekly that analyzes both the cost and the benefits of our public health policies.

As our scientific understanding of Covid-19 has grown, it feels to me like our government policies have been very slow to adapt to the science.

[Portion removed due to inaccurate information.]

Big box stores are allowed to open, but small businesses that are perfectly capable of exercising the exact same safety controls are forced to remain closed.

None of this makes sense. How about some critical reporting an analysis of all of this as a follow-up to your story about the horrible unemployment numbers.

I also think it is very important that the media share the facts about this disease so we can all start making much smarter personal risk reward trade-off decisions in each of our lives. The right answer is neither "stay at home" nor "immediately open up"...





S_mom
Community Center
on May 23, 2020 at 10:09 am
S_mom, Community Center
on May 23, 2020 at 10:09 am
18 people like this

@Dan - I completely agree. I also lately have been thinking about the restriction on any gatherings outside of your household. I have the impression officials view lifting this as a very low priority, when actually the freedom of assembly is one of our most fundamental 1st amendment rights, and restrictions have to be the minimum necessary to achieve the goal -- the government isn't supposed to restrict it on a "just in case" theory, they have to prove it's necessary (like that 0 gatherings is required rather than restricting gatherings to 5 people or less or 2 households at a time or any less restrictive option). Of course it likely was necessary at the outset and the government's motivations aren't sinister at all, but still, I don't think it's supposed to be last priority even though it doesn't cause economic harm. I think they could easily lose lawsuits if people sued (I'm not advocating for lawsuits at all!). I wonder if a medical-background health official is able to weigh these considerations or if they are biased toward any option that could prevent one more death, whatever the tradeoffs.

For anyone with a legal background, here's a helpful analysis: Web Link


resident
Downtown North
on May 23, 2020 at 10:13 am
resident, Downtown North
on May 23, 2020 at 10:13 am
11 people like this

Here's a scary ABC News report about what happens when states reopen without adequate safeguards. A hair stylist in Missouri exposed at least 91 customers and coworkers in just 1 week. Unknown how many people those 91 people in turn exposed. Obviously, social distancing is not possible in this kind of job and these kinds of exposures are going to become more common as more people return to work. Web Link


Dan
Professorville
on May 23, 2020 at 11:43 am
Dan, Professorville
on May 23, 2020 at 11:43 am
33 people like this

Please see moderator's comment below.

-------------------------------------------------------

I note that my post above was censored by Palo Alto Online staff due to "Inaccurate Information"

Let's try again, with references this time. The point I was trying to make was that our local officials are often slow to react to science and in some cases the policies they are implementing are more consistent with fear or personal beliefs rather than with science.

The first statement I made that was censored was that I was disappointed that Palo Alto has been taping off park benches and picnic tables, because this is in conflict with what science tells us about Corona - that it is not easily transmitted on outdoor surfaces.
The CDC's website clearly states this on its website. Web Link
It says: "Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection. Spraying disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public. You should maintain existing cleaning and hygiene practices for outdoor areas. If practical, high touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings, should be cleaned routinely. Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (e.g., play structures, benches, tables) or groundcovers (e.g., mulch, sand) is not recommended."

The second statement I made that was censored was that Covid-19 is very difficult to catch outside because it is hard to get enough of a viral load when you are out of doors and social distancing to become infected with the disease. The context was that many of our citizens are freaking out about wearing masks outdoors, and are shaming other citizens, when the risk of outdoor transmission is very low according to science.

Again there are many papers about this in the scientific media - here is one that states that out of 300+ outbreaks and 1200+ infections, only 2 infections were transmitted outdoors -> Web Link

The NY times covered this same subject here -> Web Link

All of this reinforces my point though - our local officials and our local media need to reflect science - and not fear or feelings - in the actions they take around Corona. Our media should be analyzing the actions of our government and reporting accurately on the full picture of what is happening - the policies that make really good sense and those that are harmful.

As citizens we all must make risk / reward decisions every day. We cannot do this well if our media censors accurate information, or if our leadership makes rules that are in conflict with science.

I'd love to see deeper coverage in the weekly on all of this :)

---------------------------------------------

From the Moderator:

@Dan, you misrepresent what was removed from your comment.

In your initial post you stated:

"Picnic tables and benches in Palo Alto remain taped off like crime scenes, even though the CDC now reports that you cannot get Covid from outdoor surfaces."

This was removed because it was patently false. Now you have corrected it by saying "not easily transmitted."

Your second comment that was removed stated:

"People are stressed out and shaming each other about wearing masks outside even though all of the evidence says there is no way to get a large enough viral load to actually catch the disease when you're out of doors."

This is similarly a false statement. Now you say "it is very difficult to catch get outside because it is hard to get enough of a viral load when you are out of doors and social distancing to become infected with the disease."

Your commenting is an excellent example of false information being spread in online forums and is a disservice to constructive public dialogue. You also disrespect our attempts to edit such false statements by revising your version to make it appear to readers that our editing was improper.

Thank you for not continuing to practice this in your commenting.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 11:50 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 11:50 am
16 people like this

The ability to assemble safely is an important and reasonable thing to discuss.

When they first started putting restrictions, it was first 100, then reduced to 50 and possibly down to 10. When these restrictions came into place I think although I may be wrong that it was either inside or outside, not sure about social distancing being part of the mix either.

So now we need to be able to assemble safely outside in social distancing in certain numbers. Can we have a social distancing of people meeting in a front yard that are not from the same household? Can this be 6 people, or 10 people? Can this be standing or sitting on blankets brought by those who do not live there? Can this be eating and drinking food that is brought by those who arrive there.

Social human parking circles have been painted in parks in San Francisco. Can adjacent circles be used by extended family/friends who are able to socialize safely?

Come on powers that be, start allowing us to assemble. Give us some guidelines if you must. 3 months is a long time for close friends and family not to meet. If we can drive by someone's house to celebrate, why can't we sit in adjacent circles in a park and why can't we bring our own blanket to visit in a front yard?


YP
Crescent Park
on May 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm
YP, Crescent Park
on May 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm
18 people like this

Good to see many on this post agreeing with what I've been saying for weeks. We were told to "flatten the curve" everyone did their job. 10 weeks later, mission accomplished, it's time to get people back to work. Our unemployment rate in US is 15% and growing the worst since the great depression. The financial and emotional damage to 38 million - yes 38 million - who have filed for unemployment insurance is staggering.

Most deaths elderly, huge proportion nursing homes focus on protecting them . Ok no mass gatherings, but why are the rest of us restricted in our work and activities!


Broken record
Mountain View

on May 23, 2020 at 5:29 pm
Name hidden, Mountain View

on May 23, 2020 at 5:29 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Small Business Owner
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2020 at 6:57 pm
Small Business Owner, Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2020 at 6:57 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 11:49 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2020 at 11:49 pm
16 people like this

Intrinsic bias. Government sees everything government does as essential.

Government is keeping all "non-esential" businesses closed to camouflage the fact that many government run businesses like convention centers, sports stadiums, airports, and transit systems will not be ready to be open for intense use for a very long time.

Government would rather keep the economy throttled, than risk having airports and trains flooded with people or have to admit they don't have a plan to keep people safe in these "accelerated transmission" environments and be forced to shut them down or admit they are high-risk and limit their use.

Reopen low-risk small businesses and close or limit the use of high-risk big businesses like convention centers, long term care facilities, airports, and mass transit systems.


John
Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2020 at 3:12 am
John, Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2020 at 3:12 am
13 people like this

COVID-19 didn't shutdown our economy, politicians did. One man made the decision to shutdown the 5th largest economy in the world and unfortunately he resides in the Governors mansion in Sacramento. Armed only with "what if" scenarios he alone continues to hold a tight rein on his politically aquired power and unwisely mandates when or which businesses can open or where people may congregate in limited numbers. Continuing his scare tactic political policies has brought on the economic collapse that may not be recoverable. As one scientist quoted "Encumbered by idiots we pressed on."


Jenna Simpson
Downtown North

on May 24, 2020 at 6:32 am
Name hidden, Downtown North

on May 24, 2020 at 6:32 am

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


common sense
Midtown
on May 24, 2020 at 8:56 am
common sense, Midtown
on May 24, 2020 at 8:56 am
9 people like this

There is another side of the story of "job losses" in california.
High tech companies like Facebook, Square, etc. are going to let a good percentage of their workforce permanently work from home. And surveys tell is if given the opportunity they will move out of state

This will have an effect on the state and local budgets - sales tax, income tax.

but there will be benefits such as better commutes, and housing prices, rental prices should not be increasing like it has for the past 5 years.


Mr.Recycle
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2020 at 10:03 am
Mr.Recycle, Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2020 at 10:03 am
8 people like this

"jumping an unprecedented 10.2%"

@Editors - I know you are quoting the California press release, but unemployment didn't jump 10%. It jumped 10 percentage points. 10% increase from 5.5% would put us just over 6% unemployment. We jumped from 5.5% to 15.5%. ~281% change, ~181% increase.

It's been corrected. Thank you.
-Linda Taaffe


musical
Palo Verde
on May 24, 2020 at 10:20 am
musical, Palo Verde
on May 24, 2020 at 10:20 am
2 people like this

^ we always see those differing percentage interpretations with tax increases.


Robert Eugene Johnson
Downtown North
on May 26, 2020 at 2:06 pm
Robert Eugene Johnson, Downtown North
on May 26, 2020 at 2:06 pm
4 people like this

This "jobs versus safety" matter is a judgement call, as informed by science.

Ask them: airline pilots will always put passenger safety ahead of passenger comfort. I want that plane on the ground, even as I'm reaching (my spell-checker just suggested "retching") for the nausea sack. We are going through turbulence right now in terms of our economy, so some discomfort is inescapable. But get that plane on the ground!

It sounds heartless to err out of an "abundance of caution," as the common expression has it. But I won't be getting on any airplane for a long time --- perhaps for many years --- and then never without a mask. If others are as cautious about this virus as I am, perforce there will be a steep job loss among the ranks of flight attendants (and some pilots).


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