Coronavirus to dent Southern California’s economy through 2021, report says – Daily News

on May19
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The coronavirus outbreak will depress the Southern California economy through December 2021, a new economic analysis predicts.

Retail sales in the six-county area are projected to plunge as much as 38% or $264 billion over the next two years, severely limiting sales tax dollars available to local governments, the analysis by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) concludes.

Unemployment rates are projected to be at their highest levels since the Great Depression over the next 19 months.

“There is no segment of our economy that is not impacted one way or another by COVID-19,” Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson, SCAG’s first vice president, said in a statement released last week. “The work we do in the coming months will be critical to how quickly and effectively we put this crisis behind us.”

SCAG provides services for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Imperial counties, which have a combined population of 18.8 million.

The economic analysis, released Thursday, May 14, determined that “absent the pandemic,” the region would have seen retail sales totaling $690 billion in 2020-21 combined. Instead, sales are projected to fall at least 26% to $515 billion, and could fall as much as 38% to $426 billion, the report said.

Restaurants in the region are projected to experience the biggest sales impact over the next two years – down a projected 53% to 65%, the SCAG report shows.

Significant impacts also are likely for clothing retailers (down a projected 43% to 57%), car dealers and auto parts stores (down 38% to 48%) and home furnishing and appliance stores (down 34% to 43%).

Unemployment rates, which fell to 4.1% in 2019, are projected to hit 19.3% in the six-county region this year and 12.2% in 2021. If true, this year’s unemployment rate will outpace any national unemployment rate since 1935, and 2021’s unemployment rate also will remain above post-Depression levels.

Imperial County will suffer the worst. According to the analysis, the southeast border county’s unemployment rate will hit 27.6% this year and 26.1% next year.

Los Angeles and Riverside counties are projected to have an unemployment rate of 19.5% each this year, with Riverside County’s rate falling to 14.7% next year and L.A. County’s rate falling to 12%.

Orange County’s rate is projected at 19% and 10.3% over the next two years; San Bernardino and Ventura counties’ rates are projected at 18.2% each this year, and at 14.2% and 12.4% respectively next year.

The analysis assumes the economic decline that began with March stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns will hit a low point June 1, followed by a long recovery.

The report warns that its findings should be used with caution because information on the pandemic’s likely effects changes daily.

“This is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” said Kome Ajise, SCAG’s executive director. “We know we’ve got huge challenges ahead of us, and will be working closely with our stakeholders and member cities and counties to identify a pathway to recovery that benefits all Southern Californians.”

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