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California’s Questionable Swing from Budget Surplus to Budget Deficit in One Year

Big tech lays off tens of thousands of employees creating glut of empty office space

By Katy Grimes, November 17, 2022 2:53 pm

Exactly one year ago the Globe reported, “California will have a $31 billion surplus next year,” according to the 2022-2023 California state budget Fiscal Outlook report compiled by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The tide completely turned in one year.

Wednesday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported California revenue is $41 billion below expectations, likely resulting in a massive $25 billion shortfall in the upcoming 2023-2024 state budget. The LAO recommends lawmakers start cutting the budget when they begin the January session.

The Globe spoke with Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson Wednesday who scoffed at the idea that his Democrat colleagues in the Legislature will start cutting the budget.

The perfect storm for a recession may be upon us with high inflation, high taxes, high energy costs, high food costs, a sizable budget deficit, and now tens of thousands of big tech layoffs, which is the other issue California lawmakers and governor need to address. Meta, Twitter, Salesforce and now Amazon are all cutting thousands of staff. The potential for, or early economic ramifications to the cities and counties in which they reside, as well as the state, and the ripple effect these could have on startups and investment banks, looks to be immense.

“At least 20,300 U.S. tech workers were let go from their jobs in November, and more than 100,000 since the beginning of the year, according to Layoffs.fyi, which tracks layoffs in the field,” CNBC reported.

Meta is laying off 11,000 employees; Twitter is laying off 3,700, Sales force is letting 1,000 employees go, and Amazon announced it will lay off 10,000 employees.

What does this mean for the already struggling California economy? And why was this budget deficit information released only one week after the midterm elections? (rhetorical question)

The letdown has been abrupt for employees of big technology companies.

Aside from the devastation to the thousands of employees accustomed to six-figure salaries, fat equity packages and cushy amenities, many employees are now facing staff cuts for the first time, along with shrinking net worths as stocks fall during a bumpy stretch for big tech, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Meta, Lyft, Salesforce and other tech firms downsizing are now dumping high-priced office space as they downsize. First, they realized that after the Covid lockdowns with employees remotely working, they didn’t need as much office space. Now with massive layoffs, they really don’t need multiple floors of office space in cities’ high rent districts.

“Tech firms also showed a preference for higher-end workspace, a move that they thought helped attract top talent and enabled landlords to command top dollar for high-quality new properties,” WSJ.com reported.

The downtowns of California’s largest cities are already resembling ghost towns from the Covid lockdowns and riots of 2020. Businesses are also fleeing or shutting down over rampant crime and issues with homeless sleeping in their doorways and on city sidewalks. Add to that the big tech layoffs and the additional loss of tax revenue, and some cities may find municipal bankruptcy the only feasible choice.

“Big tech’s retreat is a blow to the office market and to many city economies, which for several years have counted on the sector’s real estate appetite to power growth,” WSJ.com reported.

“The national office vacancy rate is 12.5%, up from 9.6% in 2019 and the highest since 2011, according to data firm CoStar Group Inc. Overall, about 212 million square feet of sublease space is on the market, a record since CoStar started tracking the statistic in 2005.”

WSJ.com continued:

“The pullback has been particularly hard on San Francisco. Businesses leased 850,000 square feet in the third quarter compared with the average in the five years leading up to the pandemic of about 2 million square feet per quarter, said Derek Daniels, San Francisco research director at the commercial real estate services firm Colliers International.”

“Salesforce, one of the city’s biggest employers, this year said it was looking to cut about one-third of the space it occupies in the 43-story tower it owns in the business district.”

With tens of thousands of big tech workers losing high-paying jobs, expect to see home and condo sales up, as well as renters leaving big cities as workers look elsewhere for work.

Assembly Republicans have been warning that Democratic policies and spending would trigger inflation and recession. Now that has come to pass. It’s time we right the ship,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said. “We overtaxed Californians and grew government while ignoring investments in critical infrastructure like new water storage.  The LAO report has some good recommendations to get us started on a better path. It’s not too late to focus our spending on the fundamental priorities, save for the rainy day to come, and pursue policies that will grow the economy and lower everyday costs for Californians.”Last year California Democrats spent a historical budget surplus of $97 billion.

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11 thoughts on “California’s Questionable Swing from Budget Surplus to Budget Deficit in One Year

  1. This has happened in Texas. They rely on the price of oil as they tax drill rigs on volume pumped, which is about 5% of their revenue, but also sales tax is about 40% which also goes down because so many people are out of work.

  2. Shouldn’t that Legislative analyst who projected a $31 Billion surplus be fired? Business leaders, consumer advocates, economists, and international banking experts all predicted the downturn. Only Democratic politicians tried to redefine economic terms to try to tell us that our own experience of economic reality was “not true.”

    That “prediction” demonstrates remarkable incompetence, even for California.

  3. It’s actually worse. Multiple news sources had California sitting on a $97 billion surplus in May of this year. The state is demolishing dams and generators on the Klamath river while we have a perpetual shortage of water and electricity. We have the highest energy costs in the country while the state phases out natural gas, hydro and nuclear. Where the hell did governor Brylcreem spend $97 billion in one year?

  4. Government employees get an automatic COLA – since that is so huge this year, that also creates a big dent in the state budget.

  5. California also makes up a large portion of its revenue from tech IPOs and capital gains on equities. Currently the IPOs aren’t happening, and capital gains are collapsing. It will be losses for the next couple years at a minimum.

  6. Too bad this wasn’t released BEFORE the mid-term elections, eh???

    Curious COINCIDENCE, right??? /sarc

    This state is a DUMPSTER FIRE, run by IMBECILE Democraps…. and our Governor is DUMBER THAN A TREE STUMP…

    And his “First Partner” is a S L U T who didn’t have enough brains to walk out on Weinstein at the first hint of impropriety, but that would assume that she has morals AND a whit of intelligence… why else would she marry Gavin the Greaseball….

  7. Katy, nicely research article.

    Yet, Californians voted to reelect Newsom and Democrats. This is a completely failed government.

  8. Between ignorant voters, voters wedded to one party and various election malfeasance issues California is likely to stay on the road to utter collapse and ruin. It’s sad and infuriating.

  9. California’s real budget shortfall is probably well over a trillion dollars when unfunded government pension liabilities are considered? Whatever the real budget deficit is, Gov. Newsom and Democrats in the legislature aren’t likely to ever acknowledge it?

  10. And, California’s swing from full, over-flowing rivers and reservoirs holding enough water for several years, to bone-dry, crushing drought with no water anywhere…all because of hair-gel POS MF SOB CS SE making sure the Pacific is full.

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