OAKLAND, Calif. - Californians are seeing a sure, buy slow recovery since the pandemic struck the state's economic underpinnings to their very core. But compared to the rest of the nation's workforce, the recovery is slow.
America's work situation has improved greatly and the President Joe Biden takes a lot of the credit. "Record job creation, record unemployment declines, record increases of people in the labor force. I would argue the Biden economic plan is working," he said last week.
But, California, the nation's largest economic engine, still lags.
Even though California's monthly unemployment rate declined from 6.9% to 6.5%, the nation number is far below at 3.9% In fact, the Golden State is still more than 920,000 jobs away pre-pandemic worker levels.
A lot of that is attributable to the jolts from the original COVID virus plus the delta and omicron variants with no assurance that we are finished with other variants that might come.
But there are other reasons too.
"Boomers are retiring. We saw a high spike in retirements among Boomers in California. And, we have the usual suspects continuing to operate, that is health concerns, the schools; they can't seem to stay open and childcare," said labor lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick.
The mysterious wild card adding to all of that, many working-age people have simply and inexplicably disappeared from the available workforce.
"There was wide expectation that job seekers would come back in high numbers in September, It didn't happen in September. It didn't happen in October. It didn't happen in November. It didn't happen in December. It hasn't happened yet," Bernick said.
Then there's the "I quit" factor.
"Voluntary quits; people voluntarily leaving jobs, highest level ever in California over 400,000 just within the month," said Bernick.
And among those working, there's omicron.
"Omicron is certainly continuing to have an impact in terms of, one impact it's having is clearly absenteeism. Employees are not coming in. We're seeing that in terms of the data," said Bernick.
Depending on what comes in the coming days, weeks and months, it could take most of this year of even into the next, to recover all the pre-pandemic jobs lost.