Southern California has seen explosive job growth since the steep decline in the Omicron variant, primarily in the hospitality, healthcare, information and logistics sectors, with a more pronounced recovery in inland parts of the region, economists said Tuesday (March 22nd) at an economic conference. summit in Pasadena.
The region is tracking a statewide job growth rate of 7% in 2021, said Robert Kleinhenz, senior economist at Kleinhenz Economics. “This is a slight recovery from what we saw coming out of the Great Recession,” he told a group of about 100 people at the San Valley economic forecast summit. Gabriel.
He singled out the Inland Empire as the region that recovered jobs lost more quickly following the 2020 and 2021 business closures and stay-at-home orders.
In January, the Inland Empire regained all jobs lost since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, he said. The region is the second in terms of job recovery after Stockton.
“The Inland Empire has grown strongly,” he added. “Its strength has been its logistics center.”
Air cargo to Ontario International Airport has exploded in 2020 and 2021 and in February 2022 the movement of packages to and from the airport saw an 18% increase in tonnage compared to February 2019.
Ontario’s airport has seen increases in air cargo from more online ordering as it has on-site centers for Fed-Ex, UPS and Amazon Prime, said Alan Wapner, Acting Mayor of Ontario and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Ontario International Airport Authority. at the top.
Additionally, the airport’s passenger volume – which took a huge hit in 2020 – is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Wapner said the air cargo business, as well as renting space around the airport for warehouses and other industrial projects, generates more revenue, allowing the airport authority to reduce airline fees. , which will increase the number of flights offered.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve been the fastest recovering airport in the country, about 98% of pre-pandemic passenger volume,” he said.
About 82% of Americans have a strong enthusiasm for travel, according to a recent survey, said Summit hospitality and tourism panelist Christine Susa of Visit Pasadena.
Ontario Airport was a sponsor of the event and sent representatives in hopes of re-establishing business relationships with the San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County. A large part of its passengers live outside the Inland Empire and come from these regions. Additionally, the City of Ontario wants to bolster its hospitality business by bringing business back to hotels and the Ontario Convention Centre.
Visitors to Los Angeles County reached 46.3 million in January, about 91% of visitors in the same month in 2019, said Bryan Churchill of the LA Tourism and Convention Center Board. He told the public he expects business to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023. The Anaheim Convention Center expects visitors to Anaheim and Orange County to reach 2019 levels by next year.
Churchill said the tourism industry relies on sporting events to increase hotel occupancy and leisure spending. The Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood in February brought in half a billion dollars in one week, he said.
The events will boost tourism and increase spending, officials said. The Pomona Fairplex is looking for a strong turnout at its 100th anniversary Los Angeles County Fair in May. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held at Dodger Stadium in July.
But tourism and hospitality experts said they were watching for challenges that could slow the recovery or stop it. Namely, whether new coronavirus variants, including a “Deltacron” variant and BA.2, a subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, are spreading at the rates seen in previous outbreaks.
Another factor that could slow the return of the hospitality industry is employment issues.
“The hardest thing for the hospitality industry is that there aren’t enough employees,” said Brandon J. Feighner of CBRE, a global commercial real estate firm, who presented a state of the hospitality industry. during the summit. He also noted that the high price of construction materials will limit the number of new hotels built.
As of now, Feighner said the hospitality industry is holding up and the future is bright in Southern California.