Retailers and restaurants hit hard by pandemic still struggling to recover

It's no surprise the economy is in a precarious position, but a new labor report is shining new light on just how difficult things are and who's feeling the pinch. 

Major sectors of the economy are faltering. Restaurants and retail have taken a major hit in the pandemic, and there are no signs that things will be changing any time soon.

A look around San Francisco and the fallout from the pandemic is clear.

A new report from the labor department shows employers nationwide shed 140,000 jobs in December. While some sectors added jobs, the federal agency said a half-million leisure and hospitality workers lost their jobs, three-fourths of those from restaurants.

That's not a surprise to Laurie Thomas from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association who says just as restaurants were beginning to bring back workers for outdoor and limited indoor dining, they were forced to close their doors again. 

"So we'd brought back a little more than 50% maybe 55%," said Thomas. "All of those have been laid off. Most of them. For example, I laid off 52 employees and kept four-and-a-half."

Restaurants have been desperate for help for months. Tadich Grill, the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi announced that it was months away from closing for good, and has now been saved by an infusion of cash from digital media company barstool sports. But, not all restaurants are so lucky, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association said the industry needs an infusion of cash and a clear road to reopening.

She said that's why her organization is asking San Francisco to follow broader state standards. 

"But I really want us to say, 'Hey guys, if the state lets us off the hook of this deep purple thing that we're in, this Bay Area regional shutdown, then we go to the color code, and that's clearly laid out,'' said Thomas. "You can look at your industry and say 'ok, outdoor dining should be allowed in purple.'"

The latest report from the labor department shows retail hired more workers in December when compared to just 11 months before, there are a half-million fewer jobs working in shops, stores, and malls.

San Francisco's Chamber Of Commerce says retailers also need an infusion of cash. 

"Only the Federal Government is big enough, really to solve this problem," said Emily Abraham from the chamber. "And first and foremost, especially our small businesses, the businesses need money."

The chamber also said open shops mean more people working, and contributing to the local economy. 

"We have the highest rate of unemployment that we've had since the great recession and so that means a lot of our San Francisco residents, you know, local residents, are struggling," said Abraham.

With the current surge, the pandemic is expected to continue to impact jobs through the winter and into the spring, with more job losses possible in the first three months of 2021.