Bay Area job losses in 2020 significantly greater than EDD estimate

The Bay Area lost thousands of more jobs in 2020 than the California Employment Development Department originally estimated.

On Friday, updated data from the EDD estimates that in the Bay Area, 427,500 were lost in 2020, nearly 66,700 more jobs lost than previously estimated. The EDD also noted that California has regained more than 39 percent of the nonfarm jobs lost in March and April of 2020.

"Over the course of 2020 we lost significantly more jobs than we thought we had, and as it currently stands now, we are in a significantly worse place than we thought we were, so it's pretty disconcerting," Patrick Kallerman, research director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said.

Data from the last quarter of 2020 shows that Asian businesses were disproportionally impacted by long-term unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Close to three-quarters of Chinatown storefronts closed for part of last year, according to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and many are permanently shuttered.

Attacks against Asians have hurt businesses too, Rodney Allen Fong, CEO and president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said.

"Obviously the xenophobia, the Asian violence that is happening is not helpful to Chinatown and the businesses are suffering from that," Fong said.

Women were also disproportionately impacted by job losses in 2020. A report by the National Women's Law Center found that since February 2020, women lost over 5.4 million net jobs, more than half of all jobs lost in the pandemic.

For the Bay Area's labor statistics, it was no different.

"Unfortunately there were a few months in 2020 where almost all of the job losses were made up of women," Kallerman said.  

In January, when COVID-19 variants caused a surge in cases across California, and Bay Area businesses remained under lockdown orders, San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost a combined 25,500 jobs according to the EDD.

"Luckily even as locked down as we were, January job losses weren't huge," Kallerman said. "Let's just keep our fingers crossed that the vaccine trajectory can continue on its current path and that we can start to get stuff back to business as usual."

As Contra Costa and Sonoma counties join the rest of the Bay Area in the red tier by Sunday, the path toward economic recovery is in sight. 

"We're starting to feel a little bit of daylight come," Fong said, "as we started to get out of the different tiers."