Read the latest 4th Quarter 2020 Business Solutions newsletter.
Helping Your Business Reopen, Recover and Thrive
I am encouraged by several improvements in our local employment and economic outlook – and you should be, too!
The most recent unemployment rate for Palm Beach County (September) fell to 7.0 percent from 7.9 percent in August, marking a second consecutive month of improvement in the county’s employment picture. The county’s rate also fell below the 7.7 percent national rate and Florida’s 7.6 percent rate.
Most significantly, our county unemployment rate now is less than half of the 14.2 percent peak in April 2020!
Other measures of improvement include:
- Total nonagricultural employment in Palm Beach County increased to 585,700 in September from 580,200 in August and more than 35 percent of jobs have been recovered since March/April 2020.
- There are 3,789 job openings in Palm Beach County compared to less than 400 in April.
- Labor force in the county increased to 699,888 in September from 698,876 in August. This measure indicates that there are more people working and looking for work compared to last month.
- For the first time since COVID impacted us, there are job gains from the previous month in all top five key industry sectors.
As businesses across our region reopen, CareerSource is very much engaged in preparing job seekers for new opportunities and helping businesses find the talent they need to reopen and thrive.
One of the most popular ways we’ve been helping employers is by hosting Virtual Job Fairs, some of these in collaboration with our CareerSource partners in the surrounding five county area. We have scheduled three virtual hiring events in October and November that your business can participate in to interview, screen and hire qualified candidates to fill your job openings:
- Tri-region Healthcare/Life Sciences job fair -- Oct. 21, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; registration required (Click here to register)
- Project Impact job fair – Oct. 29, 9 a.m. to noon; registration required (Click here to register)
- Paychecks for Patriots job fair for Veterans – Nov. 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; registration required (Click here to register)
Registration from our website is fast and easy. These events are in addition to the six virtual hiring events we’ve held so far this year to help connect hundreds of job seekers with more than 150 area employers.
Don’t forget that our Business Services staff connects employers with qualified candidates – at no cost. They can be contacted at www.careersourcepbc.com or call 561.340.1060 and select option 3.
The September unemployment rate for Palm Beach County has moved back down to 7 percent, that was lower than the state rate at 7.6 percent (all numbers not seasonally adjusted). This is a local job recovery of 35.9 percent since the low of March/April 2020. We are still -47,200 jobs down compared to September 2019.
How long will this all last?
When we talk about our local economy we must acknowledge that we are operating in the midst of a time of great change. We can look back to previous recessions for patterns and still not see the level of change we are experiencing now. COVID-19 is the catalyst for most of these changes, that’s not to say innovations in automation, machine learning, remote working, and ecommerce were not occurring prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has required all of us to make some changes, our local economy is changing too. Some industries are doing better now than before and others are at best hanging on.
The big question is how long will this last? But the question should be instead what are the forces of change that will directly affect our lives and our economy? A new report just released by the Keenan Institute identified seven forces of change at work now, and how each will require different adaptations from our economy and each of us:
Force 1: Changes in Work, Travel and Migration Patterns - By far the most significant change driven by the pandemic has been on where people go — to work, to play and even to live. These changes have had an immediate economic impact, but will also have long-term effects such as shifts in business travel activity and on where people prefer to buy homes.
Force 2: Accelerating Shifts Toward On-Demand and At-Home Retail - During the past decade, retail has seen a growing movement away from brick-and-mortar to online – yet some physical stores continue to play a pivotal role for consumers. Even as the move to online retail was shuttering physical retail doors prior to the outbreak, the ensuing pandemic has dealt a death blow to many more retailers than could have been imagined prior to January.
Force 3: On-shoring and Widening of Supply Chains - From its first materialization in China, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended and highlighted serious vulnerabilities in the global supply chain. The initial supply chain shock derived from the closure of manufacturing facilities in Asia, but quickly migrated to interruptions in transportation and closure of domestic facilities with the proliferation of stay-at-home orders and outbreaks in facilities such as meat processing plants. In addition, significant increases in demand for some items such as PPE, cleaning supplies, food to be consumed at home and delivery/transportation services resulted in widespread shortages. In response, companies have undertaken a detailed analysis of their supply chains with an eye to two primary considerations: agility and resiliency.
Force 4: Renewed Focus on Diversity and Systemic Racism - Traditionally, to avoid alienating customers and limit internal discord, most businesses have attempted to stay on the sidelines of seemingly controversial issues. However, with the growing awareness of systemic racism in the U.S., unequal impact of the pandemic on people of color and gut-wrenching scenes of violence against Black people mounting, business leaders encouraged by employees, customers and investors have increasingly realized the need to take a public stance.
Force 5: Upending of Education and Childcare - As a new school year starts, the experience for almost all students is quite different from previous years. Students are trading in composition notebooks for iPads and bus rides for dinner tables doubling as school desks. For parents, the next academic year is causing anxiety-inducing questions about the health and well-being of their children, the quality of remote learning and how to handle the loss of reliable childcare. Students spend more than 30 hours per week in school, not including extracurricular activities and after-school care. With many students starting the school year remotely, parents have been left scrambling and though it is a complication for all affected, it undoubtedly has greater impact on some than others.
Force 6: Shocks to Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Demand - The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a serious strain on America’s hospitals and healthcare systems. Treating the coronavirus has been costly for many hospitals, with increased operating costs due to additional labor needs and rising costs of medical equipment like PPE and ventilators. Additionally, early in the COVID-19 response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended that “all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” These elective procedures are important revenue-generating activities for hospitals and other healthcare providers. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals and healthcare systems faced an estimated total four-month (March to June 2020) financial impact nation-wide of $202.6 billion in losses.
Force 7: Risk Reassessment by Capital Providers - This fundamentally is an issue of shifting risks in the economy brought about by the pandemic. Companies that were once assumed to have very predictable cash flows even through a recession have instead experienced previously unimaginable shocks to revenues. Furthermore, the radical uncertainty around the pandemic’s future course generates more financial risk than many investors can tolerate. For example, banks’ commercial and industrial (C&I) loan books have been battered, and the six largest U.S. banks have set aside $36 billion in reserves to date for future loan losses. Banks were very efficient in doling out PPP loans to small businesses, but with these funds drying up, there will be a very careful assessment and scaling back of C&I lending activity. The banking sector overall is unlikely to be a source of new capital for most of the small businesses desperately in need of it.
When we review the changes in unemployment by industry, the greatest impact has been in the service sector. The leisure and hospitality industry alone accounts for more than 40 percent of year-over-year job losses, though every major industry has lost jobs. Overall, the pandemic has elevated the pressure of systems that were already under significant stress: healthcare access and payment; public transit and city design; childcare and funding for public schools. Some of these problems can be mended with patches for the short term, but many need to be fundamentally re-examined (and redesigned), which will take long-term planning as well as smart financial investment. In some ways, as we are forced to examine what is most essential to us and how there were systemic failures at a most critical time, the Keenan report says the pandemic is an opportunity to imagine the next 20 years of evolution of the entire American economic system.
We believe that there are currently significant upskilling opportunities while labor markets are slack and that these will facilitate above average future income growth for those currently out of work. Investing in human capital now helps solve both short-run and long-run problems.
The Oct. 2020 issue of Florida Trend magazine features a special 23-page section on Palm Beach County. Julia Dattolo, Interim President and CEO, and Michael Corbit, Vice President, Business Development appear in “People to Know in the Palm Beaches”.
CareerSource Palm Beach County is featured on pages 19 and 20 in the latest issue of the BDB’s quarterly PBC Business Magazine. Page 19 features our pre-apprenticeship program and page 20 is an employer testimonial about how we helped Viking Yachts with their staffing and training needs.