Park City-area unemployment rate rises, evidence of stalling job gains |

Park City-area unemployment rate rises, evidence of stalling job gains

The Park Record.

The unemployment rate in Summit County in September rose slightly and the state upwardly revised the August figure, evidence job gains in the Park City-area have largely stalled since a slew of hirings quickly after the end of the business shutdowns in the spring as the community attempted to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The state Department of Workforce Services reported the unemployment rate in Summit County in September rose to 7.7% from 7.5% the previous month. The August number of 7.5% was upwardly adjusted from an initial reading of 6.6%. The adjusted August number represented an increase from July.

The rate has fallen sharply since hitting a staggering 20.4% in April as the mountain resorts ended the ski season several weeks early and the tourism industry was largely shuttered. The gains, though, slowed significantly before the increases in the August and September unemployment rates.

The higher numbers in August and September were unexpected after Park City appeared to enjoy solid business in those two months. The community seemed busy during both of the months, with the crowds on some days resembling those during the ski season. Park City seemed to benefit from a combination of day-tripping Utahns and people from outside of the state but within driving distance, and there were reports of businesses beating their sales projections.

The increase in September could be especially noteworthy since it was timed as the scheduled start of the ski season approached. Initial hiring for the winter usually can start in September with the ski season looming in November even though hiring traditionally picks up significantly in October.

The rate in September was well above the number from the same month in 2019, when the figure was 2.3%.

The unemployment figures that will be tallied in coming months will largely depend on the ski season. Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort have announced their blueprints for the first-ever socially distanced ski season, but it is unclear what sort of numbers the tourism industry will post with so many unknowns, like the state of the spread of the illness and the economic conditions during the winter. The Sundance Film Festival, an especially lucrative stretch of the winter and an employment driver, will be significantly scaled back.

The unemployment rate in Wasatch County, meanwhile, rose to 6.9% in September, up slightly from the previous month. The rate in Wasatch County is notable since the Park City economic sphere of influence reaches into that county.

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