March was a record-breaking month for California’s economy. But not for the reasons that enthuse employers – 122,486 layoffs represented a 2,000 percent increase year-over-year, according to an analysis of daily Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notices by The Real Deal.
California law requires employers to disclose the number of employees affected by mass layoffs through WARN notices. When an employer files a WARN notice, it’s a signal that they’re laying off at least 50 workers. Gov. Gavin Newsom in March partially suspended elements of the WARN Act, such as the stipulation that employers needed to tell workers about layoffs 60 days in advance.
The Covid-19 pandemic – and the mandatory business closures and stay-at-home orders issued to curb the spread – have placed enormous strain on businesses, as the data show. The pandemic has affected different geographies to varying degrees, though. Broadly speaking, layoffs have hit urban areas where a larger percentage of the population is employed in the hospitality or food service industries.
San Francisco County has the highest per capita layoff rate of all counties in March. There were nearly 100 layoffs per 10,000 residents announced via WARN notices in March 2020. For comparison, in rural Sutter County, there was only one layoff per 10,000 residents.