PASADENA, Calif. — Experts say economies like Los Angeles that rely on tourism are taking the hardest hit when it comes to the pandemic.
California’s Tourism Bureau, Visit California, predicts spending related to travel isn’t expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, L.A. and Orange Counties have seen the second biggest jump in unemployment in the country's largest metro areas. Experts attribute that to a significant decrease in tourism during the pandemic.
But when one door closes, another one opens. Cassie Villalobos was raised with that positive outlook and it came in handy when she was laid off from her job at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena when the pandemic hit.
"My job was to really prospect new business and obviously, that wasn’t happening so they had to furlough me and that lasted for a few months and they decided that they didn’t need me after all," Villalobos explained.
With her newfound free time, Villalobos was binge watching Netlix when she came across a home organizing show called The Home Edit. It gave her the idea to start her own business called, Consider Cassie.
“I’ve always kind of just been organizing my family’s houses, my friends just out of fun, so I’ve always had a passion for it," Villalobos said.
It’s why she’s in Pasadena, organizing a new client’s kitchen. When she first started Consider Cassie back in September, she was organizing everything from garages to closets, kitchens and bathrooms.
Now, the second wave of COVID-19 is hitting her, yet again.
“I really got a taste of like, what a full-time career could be like, and it was really exciting but with the pandemic it’s been really slowing down," Villalobos said.
She’s open to returning to hospitality, but doesn’t predict it will return to normal until sometime next year.
COVID-19 erased a decade of growth in California’s tourism industry, according to Visit California. Tourism spending is expected to shrink in half to $66 billion by the end of this year.
Less revenue means less money to pay the salary of people like Villalobos. Nearly 40% of the jobs lost in California this year were in the hospitality and leisure industries.
New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows L.A. and Orange Counties were among those that experienced the highest increase in unemployment across the U.S.
“I might have to pick up a side job soon, just to pay the bills, like Starbucks or Trader Joes, but in the meantime, I do have off days so I’m just looking for more business.”
Her first batch of unemployment has already run dry and she’s nearing the end of the government’s additional pandemic assistance as well.
"Yeah a lot of bills," Villalobos said. "Definitely something that scares me.”
Still, she’s hopeful for the future, saying everything has a way of working itself out.
“I’m really just an 'everything happens for a reason' kind of person. So I feel like, you know, my degree is in hospitality. If that’s my next path, that’s great. But I’ve had so much with this, so I’m really open to anything at this point," she said.