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Study: A coronavirus recession exposes Valley economy’s strengths and weaknesses

With some exceptions, the San Joaquin Valley may be ripe to repel a coronavirus-led recession, a new study reports.

As America’s workforce remains largely sheltered-in-place and nonessential businesses and industries sidelined while the global pandemic rages, lawmakers in Washington and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have sought ways to soften the economic blow on Californians on temporary furlough and businesses facing mounting expenses with no revenue.

A study by Moody’s and the Brookings Institution released on Wednesday ranked the localities most likely and least likely to weather a coronavirus recession.

The most likely to weather the storm? Madera, Calif.

The study focuses on industries most likely to be negatively affected, often drastically, by the economic slowdown attributed to coronavirus.

Those industries? Mining, oil and gas; transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, and leisure and hospitality.

In evaluating the ability to weather a pandemic-led recession, the study focuses on the percentage of a metropolitan area’s workforce is tied to those industries.

For Madera, which ranked 382nd of 382 metro areas in impact, only 9.1 percent of its jobs were tied to such high-risk industries.

As for the Valley’s metropolitan area most likely to be hit hard by a coronavirus recession? Bakersfield, which is already feeling the initial effects of coronavirus.

Bakersfield ranked 257 on the list of 382 metro areas.

The driver behind its high placement, relative to other Valley communities? The oil and energy industry, which have been hard hit by America’s wholesale cutback of driving and fossil fuel use while in quarantine.

14.5 percent of the Golden Empire’s jobs sit in those high-risk industries.

Here’s where all Valley communities stack up in terms of recession-proofing:

City/Metro AreaRankTotal Jobs in High-Risk IndustriesPercentage of All Jobs
Madera3824,632 9.1
Merced3759,06111.1
Hanford-Corcoran3735,55511.4
Visalia-Porterville36319,63111.9
Fresno34149,56012.5
Modesto29526,41213.8
Stockton-Lodi 28336,11714.1
Bakersfield25547,89714.5

The authors of the study caution that, in a full-blown recession, other industries that dominate the Valley economy – construction and retail – would likely take a greater hit.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at [email protected]