COVID-19 and the severe recession it spawned abruptly ended what had been one of California’s longest-running and most powerful economic booms.
California’s unemployment rate more than quadrupled as millions of jobs vanished in the partial economic shutdown ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Seven months later, the economy has rebounded a bit as restrictions have eased, but economists see full recovery taking years.
The recession has eaten into family finances, permanently shuttered many small businesses, and hammered the state’s budget and those of hundreds of cities and other local governments.
Among the many casualties has been one of California’s bedrock economic sectors, dubbed “travel and leisure” — encompassing hotels, restaurants, resorts, theme parks, sports arenas and other facilities.
The sudden and steep decline in their patronage not only threatens countless billions of dollars in private investment but billions more that local…