Halloween was a special treat for all of us at CVEP. We presented our annual Economic Summit live after 2 years of virtual summits due to COVID precautions. You could feel the excitement in the room from getting to meet in person once again. For the next several Data Digests I will be presenting highlights from the excellent presentations as well as representative data from our 2022 Greater Palm Springs Economic Report. You can find a pdf version of the report here.

This is a slide from the presentation of our Summit Economist, Dr. Manfred Keil. Dr. Keil clarified for the audience that the current historically low unemployment rate of ~3.5% does not tell the whole story of post-COVID employment. This graph shows that while we have returned to pre-COVID employment levels nationally we still have not returned to expected employment levels had we not experienced the epidemic. This is displayed by the dotted orange line showing the expected trajectory of employment without COVID.

We must be reminded often that the unemployment rate is a ratio of the number of unemployed compared to the total workforce (those 16 and over actively employed or looking for work). It does not consider the millions who are not even trying to look for work. That number is much higher than pre-pandemic levels. So, we may have statistically low unemployment, but we have far fewer workers active in the workforce. We’ve all experienced this when our favorite restaurant has diminished hours because they can’t find enough workers. How can that be with an officially low unemployment rate? Because, especially in the Leisure and Hospitality sector, we have a much smaller workforce.