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Newsletter: California’s economy has officially reopened. Here’s what happens next

People dine in a restaurant's courtyard area.
People dine in the courtyard at Violet, a restaurant and cooking school in Westwood.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Rachel Schnalzer, the L.A. Times Business section’s audience engagement editor, back with our newsletter.

Last spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large swaths of Los Angeles and beyond, my editors and I revamped our weekly newsletter, turning it into a service-oriented vessel for information on how to weather the coronavirus from a financial and professional perspective. We did our best to answer readers’ questions about topics such as their rent and work-from-home arrangements and to offer actionable, straightforward advice.

Today marks California’s official economic reopening (and we’ve got a bunch of articles on the topic; I’ll link some of them below). It also marks the final installment of this newsletter. I’ll be pursuing a new reader-focused initiative.

Do you have burning questions about housing, energy, labor, real estate, tech or other business-related topics? Let us know using this survey. Once we have enough responses, we’ll put them to a public vote and provide answers to the most popular questions.

Sounds fun, right? I look forward to reading and answering questions from you in the coming weeks.

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If you’d like to continue receiving news in your inbox, try the Boiling Point and Real Estate newsletters — both written by my Business section colleagues — and the L.A. Times’ Essential California and Today’s Headlines newsletters.

California’s reopening

Pandemic safety restrictions on how we work, shop, travel and eat are easing in California, starting today. My colleagues and I put together several articles to mark this transitional time. Here are a few:

◆ Several countries are creating digital vaccine “passports” that attest to their residents’ COVID-19 vaccination status, but not the U.S., Hugo Martín reports. He explains what we’re getting in this country and why.

◆ Welcome to the summer of quitting, Sam Dean writes. Pent-up demand, pandemic savings, back-to-office mandates — experts say they all add up to a historic wave of people leaving their jobs.

◆ The ultimate guide to quitting your job: I asked experts what you should consider before telling your boss that you’re never coming back.

Check out those articles and more — including a sweeping look at which pandemic-era changes are sticking around and which are reverting — at our California reopening page.

◆ Heads-up, small businesses: A CalSavers registration deadline is coming up soon. California businesses with 51 to 100 employees must register for the state’s program — which is free to employers — by June 30 if they don’t sponsor a retirement program for their workers.

◆ This $1 house deal comes with elder care responsibility. It could get complicated, but it might be worthwhile, certified financial planner Liz Weston writes.

◆ We desperately need a wealth tax on billionaires, columnist Michael Hiltzik writes, pointing to the federal tax records of some of America’s wealthiest.

◆ San Pedro Fish Market is leaving its longtime harbor home. Roger Vincent explains what could happen next.

◆ A Highland Park man says he hasn’t smoked in decades, but Hertz hit him with a $400 smoking fee, columnist David Lazarus writes, looking at a pattern of complaints against the rental car company.

One more thing

Want to build a new home, start a renovation, hammer together a DIY project or buy a wooden picnic table? Get ready for sticker shock: Lumber prices are way up.

My colleagues Andrew Khouri, Carly Olson and Andrew Mendez report that when the coronavirus started to spread in the U.S. last year, lumber suppliers stalled production, assuming that the pandemic would cause demand for construction projects to plunge. Distributors, believing the same thing, stopped buying lumber and sold off their inventories.

But these companies were wrong — many stuck-at-home Americans decided they wanted a new house or a remodel. Now, because there aren’t enough skilled workers or active mills to process more wood, there’s no quick fix.

How long will lumber prices stay high? Read the full story here.


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