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San Diego economy to lose $12.4 billion this year due to pandemic

2019 Comic-Con Day 3
Posted at 2:37 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 19:16:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County's economy is estimated to lose about $12.4 billion this year due to the pandemic.

The new estimates according to SANDAG say the region saw about $4.8 billion in estimated wages in the first six months of the pandemic. About 176,000 workers were left unemployed because of COVID-19.

Of those who lost their job, one in five female employees who lost their job worked in the education sector, and two in three workers ages 16 to 24 who list their jobs were in the tourism sector.

About 50% of Hispanic workers who have lost their job worked in the tourism sector, as well. The tourism sector has been hit especially hard by pandemic-related closures, with many of San Diego's hotels and attractions closed much of the summer.

But tourism is just one of the industries suffering during the pandemic. SANDAG says about 80% of job loss due to COVID-19 was either in the tourism, retail, or education industries.

Ray Major, Chief Economist for SANDAG, said people from neighboring cities are still coming to the area for short trips, but the loss of large conventions and weddings is the aspect of tourism that has the most detrimental impact.

"You have people flying in from all over the world to go to conventions and they spend a lot of money here in the region at our local restaurants, at our local attractions and that has almost completely dried up," said Major.

Major added that even when the economy does recover, conventions may never look the same.

"The technology is such that it has enabled these conventions to go virtual and they’re doing a pretty good job. So now you really have to question is a business going to undertake the expense of sending their people across the country," said Major.

Before COVID-19, SANDAG estimated the region's economy to grow about 2% higher than 2019's Gross Regional Product. Now, the agency estimates the economy to contract about 4.7%, or $12.4 billion.

SANDAG estimated that the economy may grow by about 4.2% in 2021, which could bring the economy back up to 2019 levels. Major said predictions are showing a slower complete recovery, adding it could take until 2023 or 2024 for a full economic recovery, assuming a vaccine is available around early 2021.

Major also said some of the industries that aren't hurting as badly are innovation, government and construction. He said the focus moving forward should be on helping people in failing industries shift to jobs that are more successful.

"What we’re going to have to do is really find those and focus on re-training programs to help people change careers. It’s not that easy for people to switch from one industry to another," said Major.