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California job growth is sluggish -- and experts say it may get worse

Los Angeles Times

California's job market improved slightly in August, but the state has regained just a third of the jobs it has lost since the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of businesses to close. The state added 101,900 jobs last month, mostly due to the temporary hiring of federal census takers, slightly boosting state payrolls to about 15.87 million, state officials reported. In July, employers had hired 83,500 workers after Gov. Gavin Newsom and county officials allowed many workplaces to reopen. Compared with August of last year, California payrolls shrank 9.1%. About 2.6 million jobs were lost in March and April because of the pandemic.


Free banking in California? New bill tackles access and racial equity

Los Angeles Times

Banking can be expensive, especially for low-wage workers. A score of California lawmakers has signed on to a new bill designed to offer Golden State households free financial services, taking on the state's powerful banks at a time when easier access to banking services could help families cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. If it passes, the California Public Banking Option Act would create BankCal, the first state government program in the nation to offer universal consumer banking, according to financial policy experts. The program would provide no-fee debit cards, direct deposits from employers and government agencies, electronic bill payment and ATM access, directly competing with private banks. "The bill creates a way for Californians to bank without paying exorbitant fees -- money that could be used for food and rent or rebuilding from the economic devastation wreaked by the pandemic," said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), a lead author of the measure, Assembly Bill 1177.


Harnessing automation for a future that works

#artificialintelligence

James Manyika and Jacques Bughin are directors of the McKinsey Global Institute, and Michael Chui is an MGI partner; Mehdi Miremadi is a partner in McKinsey's Chicago office, Katy George is a senior partner in the New Jersey office, and Paul Willmott and Martin Dewhurst are senior partners in the London office.


Obama saw low-wage workers as struggling moms. Trump may see them as suburban teens

Los Angeles Times

Andy Puzder, the fast-food executive who is President Trump's nominee for Labor secretary, fondly recalls his first job: scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for a buck an hour as a teenager near Cleveland. "I learned a lot about inventory and customer service," the chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc. told The Times last year. "But there's no way in the world that scooping ice cream is worth $15 an hour, and no one ever intended it would ever be something that a person could support a family on." Those comments encapsulate the starkly different approach the Trump administration is expected to take on low-wage workers and their issues compared with the Obama administration. To President Trump and other Republicans, fast-food jobs and other low-paying work are largely for young people just getting started in the labor market.


California will recover from the pandemic faster than the U.S., forecast says

Los Angeles Times

The U.S. and California economies will experience near-record growth this year thanks to widespread vaccinations for COVID-19 and massive federal relief for struggling workers and businesses, UCLA forecasters predict. "A waning pandemic combined with fiscal relief means a strong year of growth in 2021 -- one of the strongest years of growth in the last 60 years -- followed by sustained higher growth rates in 2022 and 2023," according to the quarterly economic outlook released Wednesday. California, buoyed by high-earning technology and professional sectors that shifted to at-home work during the pandemic, will recover somewhat faster than the U.S., even though a full rebound in the tourist-dependent leisure and hospitality businesses will lag. "This is a very'good news' forecast," said Leo Feler, senior economist of the forecasting group based at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. "We have finally turned the corner."