The state has awarded three grants totaling nearly $2 million to Pacific Gateway, Long Beach’s federally designated workforce development entity, to expand assistance to residents who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19.


“This is an historic time and we need an historic response,” Economic Development Developer John Keisler stated in a press release. “These new grants will provide essential resources to workers and families most impacted by COVID-19.”


Totaling $1.92 million, the grants will allow for Pacific Gateway’s career center, The WorkPlace, to expand services, including career counseling, training, online courses and assistance in finding a new job. The programs also include supportive services to help with basic needs, according to the city announcement.


About half of the funding has been allocated specifically for workers within the aerospace industry, an sector with a long history in Long Beach that has experienced a new boom over the last five years with the addition of multiple satellite launch companies.


According to data released by the California Employment Development Department, unemployment in Long Beach has reached a historic high of nearly 21%. However, Nick Schultz, executive director of Pacific Gateway, said the unemployment rate is actually much higher.


Between April 12 and June 13, Long Beach’s civilian labor force decreased by 13,300, according to Schultz. While they continue to collect unemployment, those 13,300 residents are not counted in the rate because they are not actively seeking work, but awaiting recall from furlough.


“Accounting for this group of individuals increases our unemployment rate to at least 27%,” Schultz said.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.