Station Taphouse

Adhering to quarantine protocols, the Station Taphouse in Banning installed an outdoor seating area to accommodate guests.

Economic data from June that has been trickling through depicts a steady jobs picture, though a lot of that data started to accumulate before Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down a lot of the services sectors at the start of July.

According to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership out of Rancho Cucamonga, which relies on information from economists at Claremont McKenna College and California State University, Long Beach, the state’s unemployment rate fell to 14.9 percent last month, while unemployment reportedly decreased in the Inland Empire from 15.1 percent to 14.3 percent.

Banning business owner and Chamber of Commerce President Robert Ybarra sees another reason why unemployment numbers may not accurately reflect the current jobs environment.

Ybarra owns Banning-based Precision Material Handling Inc., a company that provides and services forklifts and scissor lifts.

Within the logistics industry, “Distribution warehouses are behind in their hiring because they can’t find new employees,” Ybarra says.

The simple reason?

“People are making more in unemployment than they would if these companies hired them,” Ybarra points out. “I’ve talked to at least 30 people in the industry in the last two weeks, and they can’t hire anyone. People that were laid off are making more in unemployment.”

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act that may be extended beyond the end of July when it was anticipated to discontinue, adds $600 a week in unemployment benefits — $2,400 a month in addition to the state’s unemployment benefits distribution.

That federal benefit alone on a weekly basis is more than an employee makes per hour at a warehouse after taxes.

Ybarra also owns The Haven Café on Ramsey Street in Banning, which has outdoor seating only when they move a couple tables and chairs outside.

Business has been admittedly slow, and hours have been limited to earlier in the day.

Across the street, Banning councilman Dave Happe, owner of the Station Taphouse, has set up a chain link fence to provide outdoor service for his restaurant and bar, but is only open in the evenings.

At Ybarra’s Precision Material Handling, he has hired three people since the pandemic began, and is looking to hire more, though he seeks specialized mechanics, which limits his applicant pool.

“We’re actually growing” in that industry, Ybarra says. “I was lucky I was able to keep all of my employees.”

For the Inland Empire, a lot of job gains were reported in transportation, distribution, state and local employment, social assistance jobs and utilities, based on information published by Redlands economist John Husing.

According to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, 70 percent of all employments gains in the Inland Empire were contributed by the retail, hospitality, health and education sectors.

Sure, statewide over a half million jobs were added in June, primarily in the leisure and hospitality sectors, acknowledges Banning investment adviser Dan Hassey, a financial planner with Los Angeles-based McIntosh Capital Advisors.

“They’re crappy, low-paying jobs with no job security or benefits,” Hassey says. “They shouldn’t be boasting about those jobs.”

Jobs will continue to hemorrhage, he points out, if people refuse to follow social distancing protocols and CDC guidelines.

“This is not a U.S. thing. It’s a global pandemic, and you can’t blame the World Health Organization, China, Democrats or this president. We have to continue to wash our hands and wear masks, or this health and financial crisis will continue,” Hassey warns. “There will likely be another outbreak when flu season hits. We’re nowhere near being out of the woods.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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