LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Southern California could see a staggering drop in employment by May due to business closures and cutbacks spurred by the coronavirus shutdown.

A study from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation indicated the 10-county region could see as many as 2.8 million jobs lost, but added the estimates could fluctuate dramatically depending on the duration of stay-at-home orders and other variables.

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The report released Tuesday by the LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics noted the findings “should not be used as an argument to reopen businesses or ease social-distancing requirements throughout the region.”

Researchers say current conditions suggest counties from as far north as San Luis Obispo down to San Diego and stretching as far east as the Nevada and Arizona borders could see the number of jobs drop from 10.3 million last May to just under 7.5 million next month – an employment decline of nearly 69%.

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The food and service industries would take the biggest hit, thanks to restrictions on restaurant operations, the study found. Sales, office and administrative support were also expected to be heavily impacted.

“Due to the ban on dine-in eating and the resulting empty restaurants, those who find themselves out of work are waiters, servers, bartenders, chefs and cooks and more,” according to the report. “Employment
in May 2020 may decline by 68.8 percent, year-over-year, in this major occupation group, potentially affecting close to 700,000 workers.”

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region is projected to be the hardest hit, with a projected 1.7 million drop in positions, equating to a roughly 31.7% unemployment rate, according to the report.

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The LAEDC report comes on the heels of a study released last week by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research that determined that roughly half of Los Angeles County residents are out of work due to the pandemic.