SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Nearly 6,000 San Diego workers have reportedly been laid off amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the actual number could be 60 times higher, according to officials at the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
The agency estimates there are at least 350,000 San Diego workers at risk of losing their jobs, the majority of them in service sectors like hotels, restaurants and retail, where there is no option to work from home. However, the state has eliminated the 60-day public layoff notification requirement amid the outbreak, so it is unclear how many people are no longer working.
"Right now in the short term it's supporting people through this very, very dire and scary time, and hopefully providing them with the hope that this will change and to hang in there," workforce partnership CEO Peter Callstrom said Tuesday.
The partnership is now taking a multi-pronged approach to getting people back to work. It is focusing on finding employers who have a need today, such as those in delivery, transportation and logistics. It is also working with Amazon to set up mobile job expos.
For the long term, the partnership, a quasi-public nonprofit, is relying on stimulus funds to pay for on-the-job training programs that will help people qualify for the jobs that become available once the coronavirus outbreak subsides.
"In terms of jobs, it's a bit of a game of musical chairs," said Daniel Enemark, a senior research specialist at the partnership. "We can shuffle people around and try to make sure as many people sit down as possible but at the end of the song, there's fewer chairs than there are workers."
The Partnership reports hotels comprise 37 of the 52 San Diego employers that have sent them layoff information. The others are restaurants and small businesses such as dental offices and acupuncture providers.
On the ground, restaurants are trying to stay afloat.
In City Heights, the Super Cocina restaurant has seen its sales drop 75 percent amid take-out only restrictions. Owner Juan Pablo Sanchez says his family has paid upwards of $7,000 in personal savings into the restaurant this month to stay open.
Still, employee hours have been cut across the board.
"This came to us with little warning," Sanchez said. "We were stocked for a normal business week. Basically, what we bought for that week will last us probably throughout the month. Some of the stuff will go bad."
More information on Covid-19 services with the Workforce Partnership can be found here.