Park City may be headed for serious employee shortage this ski season
A key debate among candidates in many of the country’s upcoming congressional elections hinges on whether to increase the minimum hourly wage to $7.25.
In Park City, however, employers would consider themselves fortunate to find someone willing to work for that amount. Between skyrocketing housing costs and significant increases in new businesses tapping into the job market, local employers suggest that their major challenge this winter is going to be finding and keeping good employees.
Another political hot potato on the federal level is how to deal with an apparent slowdown in the economy due, in part, to a slump in the nation’s housing market. At the moment, though, Park City, seems to be at the opposite end of that seesaw with quarterly real estate figures still hitting new highs. A closer look at the stats, though, reveals that the number of homes sold is declining. The rising bottom line is supported by higher priced homes.
Taken together, the two trends may end up stretching Park City’s economy to the breaking point. As homebuilders and businesses continue catering to the upper end, they must provide a higher level of service, which requires a bigger workforce. But if moderately priced housing is not available nearby, potential employees will look elsewhere.
Based on the success of last ski season that, once again, broke new records in terms of skier days, the coming season promises to be busier than ever. But local employers are already beginning to chew their fingernails over the dwindling number of applications for a growing number of seasonal positions.
The call for affordable housing has never been louder, but it seems the market won’t shift until the employee shortage reaches crisis proportions. Regulatory attempts to require affordable housing seem to fall by the wayside and the few that are undertaken face difficult economic sanctions.
While luxurious estates certainly add luster to Park City’s world-class reputation, smaller homes would attract workers and the workers would help sustain the level of service needed to keep Park City’s resorts in those ranks.
It seems that a forward-thinking developer with a fresh vision of affordable single-family mountain dwellings could fill an important niche in our community.
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Judy Horwitz writes in a guest editorial that Summit County voters must continue to support a vital source of funding for the area’s arts and culture institutions.