Great question. No one really knows. Someone who does a lot of thinking about this topic - Michael Bernick, former director of the California Employment Development Department - just dropped by the office to chat and he offered a few observations:
- California's post-World War II history says some industries will be permanently downsized by the recession, but other industries will flourish, including industries we've never heard of. "You know that the jobs lost in auto dealerships aren't coming back," said Bernick, a San Francisco lawyer and senior fellow with the Milken Institute. The question is, will history repeat itself? Will new industries arise to pick up the slack? He thinks so but has his fingers crossed.
- A few months ago, Bernick said information technology has progressed to the point that employers are quicker to spot trends - and adjust payrolls accordingly. In his view, we saw a slew of layoffs much earlier in the recession cycle than normal, and he believes this means they'll be quicker to rehire. He still thinks that's true, but he was dismayed that the April job figures weren't better. In April, some 64,000 jobs disappeared in California - slightly more than in March.
"The numbers last month were sobering," Bernick said. "Hiring has not at all picked up."
The May numbers will be released next Friday, June 19.