Local unemployment rate hovers near 25% as state restrictions tighten

Local unemployment rate hovers near 25% as state restrictions tighten

Olivia Sandusky

According to the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the current unemployment rate for the valley is at 25 percent.

That rate peaked at 33 percent over summer, but dropped down to 20 percent when the county was in the red tier.

Every percent of unemployment gain is equal to about 1,800 jobs lost.

Despite the discouraging numbers, some industries are doing better than others.

Joe Duffle is the president of a local labor union, UFCW 1167, he says the food and grocery industry has seen growth, but it’s come at a price.

“We’ve seen a 50 to 60 percent spike in just our stores. Had our local elected leaders, not just locally in the Coachella Valley, but at the county levels and at the state level, begin to recognize we have a problem, and begin to recognize that people are dying, things might be different” said Duffle.

Duffle believes the surge in cases at stores is due to rising demand.

In fact, food and beverage stores were one of the few industries in Riverside County to have employment growth from this time last year according to the county’s latest report.

“In the retail food, retail drug industries the profits are insane because folks are shopping more and we’re eating at home more,” said Duffle. 

But the growth isn’t enough to help the Coachella Valley’s staggering unemployment rate.

The GPSCVB also says the tourism industry has taken a 57 percent hit and lost about 25,000 jobs.

“The unemployment rate is staggering and it’s really hard. We get those calls constantly at the chamber from people struggling to get unemployment still, even after months,” said Katie Stice, president of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce.

As the state tightens reopening restrictions, Riverside County will most likely remain in the purple tier until mid-December.

Stice says shopping local will be crucial to support businesses this holiday season.

“Local chambers have really strived to share the shop local and shop small message. Every single job, frankly, is essential and so we’re trying to really educate the community and make sure that they know when they spend their dollars local that money stays local,” said Stice.

 

Stice also says online shopping can be done locally as well.

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