Omicron threatens to slow California's job recovery

Though the recovery of California's jobs and economy picture slowly rebounds, a new roadblock - the Omicron variant - could derail some of that progress. 

Despite a gain of 45,000 new jobs in November, reducing California's unemployment rate to 6.9% from 7.3%, it is still highest in the nation. National unemployment is well below that with 4.2% with several states now under 3%.

What worries Labor lawyer Mike Bernick of the Duane Morris law firm, a former EDD Director, is the Omicron COVID-19 variant. 

"Well that's really the big issue for this week and going forward is what impact Omicron is going to have in terms of employment in our state," said Bernick.

But, Omicron has already slowed things down as many companies such as Apple, Google and Lyft, just to name a few, are telling many employees to stay home. 

"It should have less impact than the number of previous variants simply because the economy has moved so much, over the past year and a half, to a remote work economy," said Bernick. 

In fact, the biggest job games came from businesses that already have a lot of remote workers.

But, the loss of in-person conventions is a big threat to those in travel, convention and leisure businesses.

"Big segment in our state. over two million jobs. Big segment for the Bay Area. That's likely to take the bigger hits if Omicron continue to grow," said Bernick.

So, far we've regained 70% of the job lost to the pandemic. Yet, the overall return to work still continues to lag with the state still having more than 1.15 million jobs available but still not taken.