Forecast: Southern California to see uneven recovery through 2022

By Kevin Smith, Redlands Daily Facts |

Southern California has reclaimed 70% of the jobs it lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the region’s ongoing recovery will be fraught with labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, equity gaps and inflation, according to a new forecast.

The report, prepared by some of the Southland’s top economists, was released Thursday, Dec. 2 during the 12th Annual Southern California summit, “From Inclusive Recovery to Inclusive Growth.” The online event was sponsored by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

The strength, resilience and diversity of Southern California’s economy helped prevent a more serious downturn, the study said, but the region is still more than a half million jobs shy of its pre-pandemic total in spite of having added 1.21 million jobs over the past 19 months.

“On the plus side, Southern California’s role as a supply chain leader has never been more important,” SCAG President Clint Lorimore said in a statement. “We’re also seeing remarkable advances in technology and innovation across multiple industry sectors.”

Still, the region’s tourism industry was essentially shut down for months. That, coupled with severe staffing shortages has hurt retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, trucking operations and small businesses.

Speaking Thursday, Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor and director for the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, said the state is working to help unclog the supply chain gridlock. The backlog has slowed the movement of goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as a result of labor shortages and increased consumer demand for products.

The backup has often left hordes of container ships waiting near the ports to unload their merchandise.

“The governor has issued an executive order that asks the state to access land for additional container storage,” Myers said.

U.C. Riverside professor Karthick Ramakrishnan, who is also executive director of the  California 100 initiative, said inclusion and equity among minorities and under-represented communities are increasingly import as Southern California regains its economic footing.