The Price of CA Lockdown: Economic ‘Free Fall’

The New York Times:

NOTE: This is the direct result of actions by Sara Cody, Santa County Public Health director.

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Locked down in their homes, the four former California governors clicked into a Zoom call and one after another described how they dealt with the crises that had defined their time in office. For Pete Wilson, it was the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Gray Davis evoked the electricity disaster that drove him out in a recall election, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown lamented the Great Recession.

But the former governors agreed that nothing they confronted was as dire or will be more consequential than what the current occupant of the office, Gov. Gavin Newsom, now faces.

The economic collapse resulting from the coronavirus pandemic “dwarfs any problem the four of us had,” Mr. Davis recalled saying at the meeting, which took place late last month and was convened by Mr. Newsom.

“There’s no playbook,” he said. “There’s no precedent.”

California was the first state to shut down to counter the coronavirus and has avoided the staggeringly high infection and death rates suffered in the Northeast. But the debilitating financial costs are mounting every day. California has an estimated unemployment rate above 20 percent, according to Mr. Newsom — far higher than the 14.7 percent national rate and similar to the estimated rate for New York State, where the virus has hit the hardest.

In Los Angeles, with movie productions shut down, theme parks padlocked and hotels empty, things are even worse: The jobless rate has reached 24 percent, roughly equal to the peak unemployment of the Great Depression, in 1933.

“Economic free fall,” is how Tom Steyer, the former presidential candidate, described it. He is heading the state’s economic recovery task force, a group of business leaders, labor activists, economists and former governors who have begun meeting to plot a way out.

California faces a daunting budget deficit of $54 billion…

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Read more at The New York Times

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