Park City official warns of labor shortages: ‘We’re going to be bleeding workforce’ |

Park City official warns of labor shortages: ‘We’re going to be bleeding workforce’

City councilor appears to tie worries about staffing to the community’s tight housing market

The Marsac Building.
Park Record file photo

A member of the Park City Council has warned of the possibility of labor shortages in the community during the ski season, for years a concern among businesses but something that appears to be especially threatening this winter amid an extremely tight housing market.

Becca Gerber delivered the brief comments during a recent City Council meeting. The elected officials were not scheduled to address the issue, but the remarks highlight there are worries at City Hall in addition to those within businesses.

As the ski season approaches, Gerber said, “everybody knows that workforce is going to be hard to come by.” She said there will be difficulties in hiring as well as retaining workers.

“We’re going to be bleeding workforce,” Gerber said.

Gerber made the comments at a crucial time for the business community as it readies for the fast-approaching ski season, which is scheduled to open at Park City Mountain Resort on Friday and then at Deer Valley Resort in early December. October and November are typically the key hiring months in a broad range of sectors that are tied to the ski industry. The mountain resorts in those months are usually finalizing staffing while many in the lodging, retail and restaurant industries are seeking employees in the period before the ski-season crowds arrive.

Housing, though, has for years been seen as a barrier to hiring. The resort-driven real estate market, the most expensive in the state, prices out many rank-and-file workers from home buying. The rental market, also pushed upward by the resort economy, is difficult for many members of the workforce who desire to live close to their places of employment.

The workers who live outside of Park City, in places like the Wasatch Front, the East Side of Summit County and Wasatch County, must weigh whether commuting during the hazardous driving conditions in the winter is worth the risks. Gerber appeared to tie the labor issues that concern her to the difficulties in finding living quarters locally.

“There is a housing crisis going on in Park City right now,” Gerber said in her recent remarks.

She noted the typical price of a house in Park City tops $3 million and studio units are also expensive with homeowners association charges added. She said units that are put up for sale after they had been available for rent displace the people who had lived there.

“They are not moving down the street or down the block to another condo. They are moving out of town or back … with their parents. And it’s ugly, and this is not the community that we have said in the past that we want to be,” Gerber said.

City Hall sees itself as pursuing an aggressive housing program, but the efforts are undertaken on a long-term basis rather than being designed to address a situation like the one Gerber describes as unfolding as the ski season nears. The municipal government instead wants to develop housing for the workforce over time.

Gerber, a second-term member of the City Council who was raised in the community, oftentimes presses issues important to the rank-and-file workers of Park City. In early 2020, shortly before the novel coronavirus pandemic struck, Gerber addressed rising concerns in the workforce. Gerber at that time told the other elected officials the concerns could someday lead to an uprising of some sort, saying during a discussion about transit and transportation there could be “a workforce rebellion in the next couple of years because people are frustrated and they’re getting angry.”

Steve Joyce, another member of the City Council, during the recent meeting also spoke briefly about the topic. He said housing issues are not unique to Park City.

“They are everywhere. The help-wanted stuff is everywhere. There’s no inventory anywhere,” he said. “It is truly a nationwide housing crisis. And I don’t know how it ends.”

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