Welcome to the 91st issue of the California Coronavirus Weekly Recap newsletter.
In This Issue:
- The Economy & Your Finances: U.S. and California unemployment decreasing; EDD requiring proof of self-employment
- The Market & Industry: California market confidence up; mortgage rates dip
- Around the State: Omicron variant found in California wastewater; California COVID cases rising
- Health Check-Up: Omicron variant possibly more infectious; where to schedule your booster
The Economy & Your Finances: U.S. and California unemployment fall; EDD requiring proof of self-employmentThe U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent last month, as 1.1 million Americans found jobs in November, even though reports showed only 210,000 non-farm jobs were added. Employers hired the most people in industries such as transportation and warehousing, while restaurants, bars and hotels pulled back on hiring. The number of unemployed Americans fell to 6.9 million in November, compared to the pre-pandemic average of 5.7 million, and wages increased 4.8 percent from a year ago. The percentage of Americans in the workforce rose to 61.8 percent, which is the first significant increase since April.
California workers filed 47,900 initial claims for unemployment during the week ending Nov. 27, which was 4,600 fewer claims than the week prior. Unemployment claims in California have decreased for five of the last six weeks.
Although Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits have ended, the Employment Development Department (EDD) is now requesting PUA recipients to provide documentation to prove that they were self-employed during the calendar year before and up to the start of their PUA claim. Remember, you may have to submit proof of self-employment even though PUA benefits have ended. You can upload the required documentation through the “Upload Employment Document” section on your UI Online homepage. Acceptable documents include state or federal tax identification numbers, business licenses, tax returns, business receipts or invoices, signed affidavits verifying self-employment status, contract agreements and bank statements from a business account showing self-employment. Providing more than one document may help support review of your proof of self-employment. Your deadline to submit the required documents will be on your UI Online homepage. You may be able to request more time if you have good cause, but if you don’t provide the required documentation by your due date, you may be required to repay any benefits determined to be an overpayment.
The number of homebuyers who thought that it was a good time to buy a home in California rose to 18 percent in November, from 17 percent the month before. Prices are still rising, and with them home equity also increases. Nationwide, fewer than 1 percent of sellers had a net loss from their sale in 2021, which is far below the usual average of 9.9 percent since 1994, and the typical net gain was $322,500, a 95.5 percent increase from the purchase price. Home sellers who had lived their house for less than five years typically earned a 33.3 percent profit from their sale, while sellers who had live in their homes for five or more years typically earned a profit of 135.1 percent.
Thirty-year fixed rate mortgages fell to 2.96 percent from 3.3 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell from 2.44 percent to 2.29 percent. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage lowered to 2.76 percent.
Sources: C.A.R. Market Minute, Business Insider
Around the State: Omicron variant found in California wastewater; California cases rising
After the first confirmed U.S. case of the Omicron variant appeared in San Francisco last Wednesday, the second U.S. case appeared at USC and now at least 10 cases have been found throughout California and 30 cases nationwide. A test of wastewater samples in Sacramento and Merced counties showed that Omicron is already circulating in those counties, and probably across the state. However, the Delta variant still makes up more than 99 percent of coronavirus cases in California. So far, the Omicron variant seems to be more infectious than other strains, but it might cause milder symptoms, although real data will only be available in a few weeks because hospitalizations tend to lag after infection by two or more weeks. Because the first U.S. case was found in San Francisco, local scientists quickly began growing the virus in high-security labs at U.C. San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley and Stanford. By growing the virus in controlled experiments, they will soon learn more about whether it can dodge prior immunity and whether it produces worse illness than other strains.
As of 10:30 p.m. yesterday, there were 5,107,276 reported cases of COVID-19 in the state, for a daily average of 6,295. This is a sharp increase of 20.5 percent from two weeks prior. Hospitalizations statewide are quite low (though some more rural regions remain high), at 3,214, an increase of 2.3 percent. Statewide, 24.6 percent of ICU beds are available. California has administered 58,765,810 doses of the vaccine, and 72.6 percent of residents have received at least one dose. Among all Californians, 64.9 percent are fully vaccinated.
An initial study out of South Africa, where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first identified, shows that it might produce milder symptoms, and be less likely to require hospitalization. Compared to the Delta variant, that infects about 1.5 more people for each case, the Omicron seems to infect 3.0 to 3.5 more people. It seems to be able to reinfect people who had previously recovered from COVID-19, and there is some question over how much protection being vaccinated without boosters can provide. Being fully vaccinated with boosters might still provide the best protection, along with wearing masks indoors and practicing social distancing. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are already working on Omicron-specific vaccines or boosters. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that it is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to streamline the process of authorizing Omicron-specific vaccines when they are ready, which is expected to be in about three months.
California’s vaccination website, myturn.ca.gov, is offering appointments for anyone age 5 and up. Vaccinations are also available at walk-in clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Some counties have their own vaccine scheduling or information websites, such as L.A. County’s scheduling site, San Francisco’s scheduling site, San Diego County’s information site, Orange County’s information site, and Sacramento County’s information site.
Sources: South African Medical Research Council, Mercury News, NBC News, CBS News, Johnson & Johnson, The Hill, MyTurn.gov, L.A. County Dept. of Public Health, SF.gov, San Diego County, Orange County, Sacramento County Dept. of Public Health