One of six Bay Area companies have chopped jobs amid pandemic

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One out of every six companies in the Bay Area have chopped jobs amid the economic fallout unleashed by the coronavirus, and pressure has intensified to end government-mandated lockdowns that have throttled the now-feeble regional economy, a poll released Tuesday shows.

The Bay Area Council warns that a “tipping point” looms for the region’s economy, which only last February was one of the national leaders for job creation and business output, but now has become a bleak economic landscape that lost 27,200 jobs in March.

An estimated 17 percent of Bay Area companies have already laid off workers, the survey determined. Another five percent said they would have to lay off employees within two weeks if business lockdowns continue that long.

Another 12 percent would launch job cuts if the shutdowns persist for another month. And 26 percent would institute staffing reductions were the shelter-in-place restrictions continue for two more months.

Bay Area employers have, so far in April, notified state labor agencies of plans to eliminate at least 64,000 jobs, according to this news organization’s exclusive new compilation of planned job cuts in the nine-county region.

That 64,000 figure, which is current as of April 25, is several times greater than the 13,900 in planned job cuts for all of March in the Bay Area, the official statistics reported by the state’s Employment Development Department show.

The state government and array of local agencies have imposed lockdowns on businesses, including orders for sheltering in place. But those shutdowns have triggered a widening number of job losses.

“Employers are reaching a tipping point in their ability to withstand the severe economic effects of the shutdown,” said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council.

The survey found that 29 percent of the respondents to the Bay Area Council poll want the restrictions lifted within two weeks, while another 42 percent want them lifted within a month.

The Bay Area Council conducted its survey of 178 chief executive officers and executive leaders in the Bay Area from April 21 through April 27.

“Public health and defeating COVID-19 must be a top priority,” Wunderman said.

The economy, though, can’t remain shuttered indefinitely, he added.

“We also need a clear plan for how we can begin responsibly to reopen the economy in phases over the coming weeks and months,” Wunderman said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday offered some hope that unemployed workers could begin to return to their jobs sooner than later.

Among the non-essential services that could start to see some eased restrictions, according to the governor: Retailers that offer curbside pickup, some manufacturers, and some offices for which remote working isn’t feasible.

“We are weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications” to current stay-at-home orders in California, Gov. Newsom said during his regular news briefing about the state’s battle against the deadly bug.

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