Friday, April 10, 2020

County Survey: Nearly 1,700 jobs, More than $21 Million in Revenue Lost to COVID-19

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 1:30 PM

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Nearly 1,700 Humboldt County residents have lost their jobs and 11 local businesses have closed due to COVID-19 and the county's resulting shelter-in-place order, according to updated results of an economic impact survey conducted by the Office of Emergency Services.

In total, the 519 local businesses that have responded to the survey to date reported estimated losses of more than $21 million.

For perspective, the 1,700 jobs lost is nearly 3 percent of Humboldt County's workforce, and that's with just 16 percent of the county's employer establishments having filled out the survey, according to data from the U.S. Census, indicating the true impacts are likely far worse than reported.

The survey, a copy of which can be found here, aims to capture data about the total economic impact on businesses in Humboldt County and will be used in the county's ultimate claim for disaster relief funds. It's also designed to be taken multiple times, so local business owners can report conditions as they change through the duration of the "COVID-19 event." For more information on the survey, check out a FAQ page here. And for a regularly updated list of financial assistance resources for businesses, click here.

While the $2 trillion CARES Act recently passed by Congress has hundreds of billions of dollars set aside for loans and grants to small businesses, reports nationally and locally indicate the system has been overwhelmed with applications and it's unclear when money will begin flowing.

The CARES Act also adds $600 in federal funding to the weekly amount available in unemployment benefits, which in California brings the maximum weekly benefit to $1,050, though benefits are calculated based on a person's wage history. But with the new federal benefit, they will range from $650 to $1,050 once the federal aid kicks in beginning Sunday.

But the Employment Development Department, which had seen record low rates of new unemployment claims in California prior to COVID-19 and had staffed down accordingly, is overwhelmed in the face of a historic onslaught of claims. Gov. Gavin Newsom said yesterday that the state has received 2.3 million new claims in the last month — a higher tally than were filed in all of 2019. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the state processed 925,450 new claims for the week ending April 4 — a 2,418 percent increase over the same week in 2019.

EDD has had a hard time keeping up and reports indicate many of the newly unemployed are having a hard time getting updates on their claims, and may not receive a benefits check for weeks.

At a recent virtual town hall meeting, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman urged any local residents having a hard time getting through to EDD to call their state representatives, Assemblymember Jim Wood at 445-7014 or Sen. Mike McGuire at 445-6508. (You can file and learn more about unemployment benefits or  claim online here.)

Nationally, nearly 17 million unemployment claims have been filed over the last three weeks, according to a story in Politico.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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