An article published in the Orange County Business Journal reported in April: “Orange County’s unemployment rate may spike at 17% in the next three months, and won’t come down to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 at the earliest, according to California State University-Fullerton economists in their Spring Economic Forecast.” The Economic Research Analysis and Forecasting Director at the Woods Center, Anil Puri, went on to say, “Tough times are ahead.” He projects the rate of unemployment in OC will average 11.5% in the second quarter and said, “in the next three months the unemployment rate may go up to 15% to 17% for a month or two before it comes down. It will start declining, but it will not reach the level of 2.5%-3% until after 2021.”

While this economic forecast may sound like a ‘doom and gloom’ scenario, I simply do not see it that way. While it’s beyond dispute that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global economy upside down and significantly disrupted supply chains around the world, this situation simply does not belie the fact that the longest economic bull run in history that began in March 2009 was built on strong business expansion coupled with solid fundamentals (i.e., earnings, growth). While the pandemic has dealt us a major blow, I believe our economy has the strength and resilience to bounce back once the path to contain the virus has been identified.

So, what exactly does this mean for students graduating from Chapman University eager to enter the workforce? In one word – patience. While the economy as a whole is being impacted, not all industry segments have or will be negatively impacted. Clearly, companies operating in the areas of hospitality, retail, travel, sports, and the like are in contraction mode, others such as infotech, biotech, pharma, healthcare, life sciences, e-commerce, online services, and defense are thriving. It is important to note that business success is strongly linked to expansion, and this, in turn, means increasing the size of the workforce. An extremely low rate of unemployment actually hampers business expansion and is considered an inhibitor of economic growth.

Why patience? Because most companies are very distracted by all the changes and disruptions of the last several months. This does not mean that many industry sectors aren’t hiring, but it does mean that many aren’t moving quickly due to uncertainties in the economy. In other words, they’re struggling to find their footing in what for them is a new world. For those of you looking to enter the workforce, this translates into diligence and patience. The reason you came to Chapman in the first place was to get the highest quality education possible. The skills and credentials you take away from Chapman will clearly differentiate you as the most desirable candidates in the eyes of companies who need to recruit the very best talent to help them grow. So, in my mind, your future is very bright indeed!
I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Jeff Winston

Jeff Winston

Mr. Winston serves on the Schmid College Dean’s Advisory Council and is a valued Mentor in Schmid’s Grand Challenges Initiative program. Mr. Winston has over 35 years’ experience defining information services and technology strategies in addition to designing and implementing solutions for Fortune 500 companies across several industries. Before entering retirement, Mr. Winston spent 19 years in the pharmaceutical and medical device business, focusing on streamlining business processes, improving customer experience, equipping field forces with effective tools and managing the business of I.T. A native of New York, Mr. Winston holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics and Mathematics from Hofstra University. He is married, has three grown sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and six adorable grandchildren. He and his wife live in Yorba Linda, California.