City’s struggling economy showing little progress 

The economic downturn in San Francisco is slow on the rebound, according to new statistics from The City.

As of February, The City’s unemployment rate stayed below 10 percent, which is no change from January, according to the controller’s monthly economic barometer report.

Sales tax data is yet to be made available, but the decline in BART stops to Union Square and city-owned parking garages suggest there has been no upswing in retail sales for February, according to the report.

“What I hear from most small businesses is they are struggling and have not seen increases in revenue,” said Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California. “You continue to see stores closing.”

The new statistics came just a few weeks after Congress extended funding to assist with unemployment nationwide. San Francisco stands to gain as much as $60 million to extend its Jobs Now program, which has helped more than 2,100 unemployed residents find work. The program was set to expire in September.

“We’re starting to see signs of improvement, but these unemployment numbers are still stubbornly high,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “People are still hurting economically, and this just reminds us that we can’t let up on our efforts to help our small businesses and put people back to work.”

As for tourism, San Francisco’s No. 1 industry, the hotel rate is down 4.2 percent compared to this time last year, according to the report.

“We are stuck in a rut,” said Steve Falk, CEO and president of the Chamber of Commerce. “We clearly need to do everything possible to get tourism and visitors coming back to San Francisco. Until we get conventions and meetings and visitors back, we will be stuck in this rut.”

While the jobless rate is still bleak, there’s some good news for San Francisco’s economy: Fewer people are relying on government assistance programs to date. According to the report, the County Adult Assistance Programs, which serves very low-income residents, has seen a 4.5 percent decline in caseloads since December.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

 

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