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Ontario State of the Region event highlights local and national pandemic recovery

Dr. Robert Kleinhenz speaking during the annual State of the Region event hosted by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.
Jonathan Linden
91.9 KVCR
Dr. Robert Kleinhenz speaking during the annual State of the Region event hosted by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.

Local economists and business leaders gathered in Ontario earlier this week for the annual State of the Region event.

The event's main focus was discussing how the U.S. and Inland Empire has been recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Sue Oxarart is a director with the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says employment in the California hospitality field has continued to struggle. "It remains 14% below the pre-pandemic peak even after leading the region's industries and job gains over much of the year," Oxarart said.

Oxarart says the state's tourism spending dropped by $65 million and that the state has only reached 45% of its 2019 tourism spending rate. "The last time that California's spending on the tourism sector was this slow was 1996," Oxarart said.

That said, Oxarart says they do expect the tourism sector to fully recover by 2024.

But there was better news on the overall U.S. economic outlook. "The progress we've made over the past two years is pretty remarkable considering how deep a hole we were in," said Inland Empire Economic Partnership economist Dr. Robert Kleinhenz.

Kleinhenz compared the pandemic numbers to those of the 2008 recession and said's we're in much better shape. "The great recession took four years to recover all the jobs that we lost," said Kleinhenz. "We expect to recover all the lost jobs at the national level two years thereabout."

He said that in 2008 the U.S. was averaging 150,000 new job gains per month and that we're currently averaging over 800,000 a month.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.