The number of unemployment claims in San Diego is rising sharply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the people who are unemployed now were relying on big events, like festivals and concerts, to make their money.
“I was looking forward to Coachella,” said Brian Burford, a stagehand who works at concerts and events across the country.
Burford is sad to miss the music, but is mostly worried about his future earnings.
“Everyone in our company just got the call yesterday that we’re shutting our doors and we’re done,” said Burford.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put all large gatherings on hold, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty when things will get back to normal.
“I’m looking for odd jobs. Trying to keep it together for the next couple of months,” said Burford.
Many San Diego jobs rely on crowded venues. Sierra Bates helps put on events for different radio stations. With no more large gatherings, business has dried up.
“I felt like it all happened at once. So you feel laid out and you don’t know what to do next,” said Bates.
Bates is not feeling the financial hardship yet, but knows that other people who help put on events are hurting.
“I really feel for the other people who have children and other family members they have to support with their one paycheck so that’s unfortunate that’s happening as well,” said Bates.
Not being able to connect physically adds to the anxiety.
“We can’t even get together to console each other,” said Burford.
Burford and Bates are optimistic the economy will recover, but the uncertainty remains for many San Diegans who depend on crowds for a paycheck.
58,208 unemployment claims were filed in San Diego County during the week of March 8 – March 14 according to the California Employment Development Department. That is nearly 15 thousand more claims than the previous week. The county was averaging about 41 thousand claims in the months before the pandemic.