Can you think back to 2018? That was FIVE years ago. Not two or three years as it feels to me due to the lost COVID years. So much has changed irrevocably like how we think about work. Here at CVEP, we have highlighted the business effects of the pandemic. For instance, the disproportionate number of workers in our valley who cannot work remotely. Today we will look at a few persuasive indicators of some of the profound changes in the local business climate since pre-COVID 2018.

Overall, in the greater Coachella Valley, the total population is down nearly 3%. You may hear that our county, Riverside County, is growing. But that is mostly in the rapidly growing commuter communities of Banning and Beaumont. But the total number of jobs is down almost 4%. We still have not seen a full recovery of jobs lost during the COVID shutdowns, especially in some of our highest employment sectors. But note the nearly 23% rise in the number of businesses during this period. In order to qualify for COVID-related business assistance loans and grants a business needed to be registered. This accounts for the rapid rise in the number of businesses. People also went to business for themselves when their employers furloughed staff. Unfortunately, the rapid rise in businesses has not coincided with a rise in jobs.

The business listings that we obtain here at CVEP are categorized by two federal standards: Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. The four-digit numerical SIC codes have mostly been replaced by the six-digit NAICS codes. But the way they classify businesses differently can be helpful in looking at alternative categories of industry clusters. In this graph, the numbers in paratheses show the percentage of employment in this industry sector compared to all employment.

The SIC code classes show that the only big winner in employment during this period is retail trade. Not surprising, since we couldn’t make use of in-person services during COVID. How many of you bought exercise equipment in lieu of going to the gym? Hotel and lodging of course took a huge hit during this period and still and has yet to recover, along with Entertainment.

The six-digit NAICS codes allow us to look more finely at industry sectors. Two sectors have seen significant gains – Other Services and Healthcare/Social Services. Construction has also rebounded. But when Food and Lodging are grouped, we see that this sector still has a long way to go to recover from pre-COVID employment. Most of us have experienced this firsthand with long waits at restaurants and diminished service at lodging.