Summit County official signals unemployment could remain elevated ‘if we are not careful’
The chair of the Summit County Council on Thursday said in an interview the future move in the unemployment rate in the county, which rose sharply to 20.3% in April, depends on the success of the area in combating the spread of the novel coronavirus.
County Councilor Doug Clyde said “the words of comfort are more on the side of words of caution.” He said if people decline to practice social distancing and they stop wearing masks, the unemployment rate could remain elevated for an extended period.
“If we are not careful, and our infection rate increases significantly, then our economic future is grim,” Clyde said, adding that it is imperative to continue to practice social distancing.
The 20.3% unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, is the highest in decades and illustrates the devastating hit to the economy caused by the early closure of the mountain resorts and the shutdown of a broad swath of businesses. Clyde said the unemployment rate is “just simply a reflection of how bad our business economy is.”
Clyde said there is not enough evidence available to predict a timeline for the economic recovery in Summit County. It is also difficult to project unemployment levels, he said. Clyde said the leisure and hospitality industries are resilient, but the consumer demand differs from that of, as an example, manufactured goods.
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“No one has to take a vacation to a ski area. No one has to take a vacation to a mountain resort,” he said.
In a best-case scenario, Clyde said, business in Park City and surrounding Summit County could drop between 10% and 20% in 2020. That prediction assumes the number of coronavirus cases is well managed and potential visitors see Park City as a safe place for travel, he said.
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County officials indicated the person was a man over 65 who had been hospitalized with the coronavirus. No other details were provided.