With more than 1 million unemployment claims, L.A. County’s economy takes a ‘sobering’ hit

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With more than 1 million unemployment claims, the Los Angeles County economy has taken a devastating hit with most layoffs among lower-income jobs, officials said Wednesday.

An economic task force made up of county officials and leaders from 13 different industries met Tuesday and revealed how they have been impacted by months of closures due to COVID-19.

“It was sobering,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.

The restaurant industry has seen 80% of jobs lost, and 890,000 people in the film and entertainment employees are not working, according to Barger. Among the more 1 million who faced layoffs, over 75% earned an average annual salary of less than $50,000 a year, Barger said, citing data from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.

“Economic impacts created by COVID-19 have hurt our most vulnerable populations,” Barger said. “The most prolonged closure means that many small businesses may not be able to reopen and will cause permanent job losses for millions throughout this county.”

L.A. County continues to hold the largest share of infections and fatalities in California with a nursing home population that’s seen thousands of deaths among residents.

Currently, there are a total of 40,857 cases of COVID-19 and 1,970 deaths in the county, including another 1,324 infections and 57 fatalities reported by health officials Wednesday.

But the economic task force has set a goal to reopen higher-risk settings like restaurants and malls to customers by July 4, something health officials still need to sign off on. Barger said the industry experts on the task force will deliver reports on progress by June 30.

Local officials continue to take a cautious approach.

“That’s a goal, but we have to get there,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said Tuesday. “And we have to do it by measurement. We have to do it with scientific evidence and data, and making sure that everybody’s adhering to the public health order.”

Meanwhile, health officials did deliver a bit of good news during their daily news briefing. The rate of transmission of coronavirus has fallen “rapidly and stayed close to none,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the Department of Health Services.

“For every person infected with the virus, it was passed on to approximately one additional person,” Ghaly said. “This led to a gradual flattening in the number of new cases and a relatively stable demand for hospital resources and services across the county.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post spelled Christina Ghaly’s last name incorrectly. The post has been updated.

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