In retrospect, the pandemic made California easy to shut down. Getting it to bounce back has become devilishly difficult and continues to lag behind, not lunge forward.
At 7.5% each, California and Nevada have the dark distinction of being tied for the nation's highest unemployment rates. Nevada continues to suffer low tourism. California has lost so many small businesses that there are far fewer jobs to return to. Also, many lower-paid workers are apparently holding out and waiting to see if employers will continue to raise wages to a livable level.
"The recovery isn't going to be at the speed that a lot of people talked about earlier this year," said labor lawyer and former EDD Director Michael Bernick.
For example, the Golden State gained only 47,000 new jobs in September; less than half the average monthly gains in many previous months.
"Texas had gains of over 95,000 new jobs and Florida had gains of over 65,000 new jobs. Both those economies are smaller than ours," said Bernick.
Last week California unemployment claims rose steeply to some than 80,700. That represents almost a third of the entire nation's claims, well above the state's proportion of the country's workforce.
If there's a ray of sunshine in this, that job gain represents a quarter of all the new jobs in the nation last month. It is also an indication that the entire economy is slowing down, not just California.
But, more than any state, California has something in its DNA already producing a new crop of new jobs.
"The entrepreneurial DNA in our state's economy is the most is the most encouraging part of California's economy," said Bernick.
And, he says, we've learned a lot about the old way of working considered efficient just two years ago. "People have come to realize that how much of pre-pandemic so-called work activity was a waste of time; whether it was unnecessary business meetings or ridiculous business trips or spending all day on e-mails, most of what was being done was not useful activity," said Bernick.
Back to the office every day and the way things were all the time at work, may end up a relic of the past.