MAY 2021
“While no two recoveries are ever the same, what’s happening in San Bernardino County and throughout the Inland Empire this time around is indicative of the strength of our economy and the pipeline of trained and qualified workers we have to support the needs of businesses.”
Phil Cothran
Chairman, San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board
In just 12 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Bernardino County reclaimed 70% of jobs lost last spring. By contrast, it took five years to reclaim that many jobs during the Great Recession – an indication of 1) how different these two economic downturns and recovery periods have been and 2) the county’s rapidly emerging role as a regional and statewide economic driver.

A deep dive into data reported by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) suggests the Inland Empire’s strength as a supply chain and logistics hub has helped immunize it from some of the prolonged economic difficulties many other regions are facing. The numbers show that trade, transportation and utilities – which encompass much of the logistics sector – added 4,100 jobs from February to March alone and 29,400 jobs over the past year.

That annual gain nearly offset a year-over-year loss of 30,700 jobs in accommodation and food services – an industry that was hit particularly hard during the early months of the pandemic. Encouragingly, that sector is roaring back – up 4,500 jobs from February to March alone.

The result of all of this is that San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire have reclaimed a higher percentage of jobs than Orange County, Los Angeles County and the state as a whole. We’ve also accomplished what it took nearly half a decade to achieve, after the start of the Great Recession – a downturn that was far more challenging, not only here, but across the world.

The San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB) is working closely with businesses to ensure that their labor pool needs are met. For more information on WDB’s Business Services team, click here.
My first job was bussing tables at the San Bernardino County Courthouse, which was run by my grandfather. He was legally blind, and was awarded the contract through a federal program called the Randolph-Sheppard Act. As a kid from San Bernardino, that was my first experience watching people work in public service, a career option I hadn’t ever considered until that point. The fact that the experience was made possible through a federal program inspired me further, and helped lead to where I am today. 
Tawney’s story: ‘So grateful for the help and support of Workforce Development’
Tawney Fiacco’s journey with WDB began in February 2019. “I found myself recently unemployed and struggling to get a position in my previous field. After several months of submitting job applications I was unable to land a stable position, so I reached out to Workforce Development for guidance. My goal was to obtain a career in which I would have job security and opportunity for growth and development.”

Fiacco eventually came across a Human Resources Management program offered at the University of Redlands. “I started the eight-month program and with the assistance of Workforce Development, I was able to complete my program and graduate. I am so thankful for the help and support. Shortly after graduating, I had several job interviews and was able to land a position as a Human Resources Manager (at Walmart). I absolutely love Human Resources and enjoy my career. I am constantly applying what I learned and continuing to grow in different avenues.”
‘We don’t look at the past. We look at the present and the future’ – U.S. Rubber
U.S. Rubber Recycling Inc. in Colton embodies the spirit of second chances through its Bounce Back program, a model for providing formerly incarcerated individuals the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Of the company’s approximately 50 employees, 60% spent time in prison. “We don’t look at the past. We look at the present and the future,” says Leslie Morales, Vice President of Operations.

The company, which recycles rubber tires into products such as sports matting, established its second chance hiring philosophy more than 20 years ago – recognizing the importance employment plays in the rehabilitation of marginalized workers.

This past year, WDB partnered with its counterpart in Riverside County to support these kinds of re-entry programs as part of Prison 2 Employment – a state-led initiative to help formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs and live independent lives. For Thomas Urioste, the opportunity has been life-changing. After serving 11 years in prison, Urioste was hired at U.S. Rubber, and today has a steady income and security.

“For a guy like me to get a job at a great company, it’s unbelievable. I’ve got no words to describe it,” he says. “It’s been a long, hard road, but I’m here now.”
Message from the Chair
Supply chain creating more promising career opportunities than ever for our region
Phil Cothran, Chairman, San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board

The graphic above tells an impressive story – more than 55,000 expected job openings in the supply chain sector over a 10-year period. No other industry will hire more people in the Inland Empire during that time frame. These jobs support individuals and families, and, over the past year especially, have played a key role in keeping our regional economy moving. San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire are a national – and international – supply chain hub, with the location, infrastructure, employment pool and advanced career training programs to create more opportunities than ever for businesses and job seekers. For more on how this vital industry is evolving, check out the William and Barbara Leonard Transportation Center at Cal State San Bernardino. The Center has emerged as a leading voice for an integrated and sustainable transportation system in our region, and, through partnerships with Chaffey College and other educational institutions, is creating advanced-degree pathways for students interested in supply chain management as a career. At WDB, we’re proud to stand behind remarkable efforts such as this as, together, we build an even more promising future for our county.
WDB Exec elected to National Workforce Board
Congratulations to Marlena Sessions, WDB’s Executive Director – recently elected to a full three-year term to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB). Sessions, who joined WDB in August, previously served three separate one-year appointments to the NAWB board. She also serves on the John J. Heldrich School of Workforce Development Board at Rutgers University and is a past President of the United States Conference of Mayors. For more on NAWB and Marlena’s board election, click here.

WDB hosts free virtual seminars throughout the week to help job seekers on topics such as interviewing skills, resume building and navigating the employment resources available during the pandemic. If you know of anyone who could use this valuable assistance, a calendar of upcoming sessions is available here.

In the meantime, feel free to check out these upcoming events.

Wednesday, May 19: Next General Board meeting of the WDB. Check the WDB calendar for updates and agendas.

Friday, May 21: California EDD releases April jobs report.
New to social media for your business? Not sure how you can use social media to grow your business? Watch this webinar to learn why you should be using social media, how to use it effectively and how you can use it to grow your business.

For archived videos of our free Business Services webinars, such as this one, click here.