Half million jobs in hospitality and leisure lost nationwide through mid-March
In the days after Moab began shutting down businesses and instructing residents to isolate themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 549 Grand County residents filed for unemployment insurance benefits, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
In that same timespan, Utah residents filed more unemployment claims than were filed statewide in all of 2019, according to Gov. Gary Herbert.
In Grand, 270 workers filed unemployment claims from March 15 to March 21, followed by 279 new claims the next week. By contrast, in the week prior to the March 17 order to close local hotels, campgrounds and other lodgings to visitors, only one person in the county had filed an unemployment claim.
Nationwide, total non-farm job losses by mid-March — before many statewide travel orders had been put in place — were 701,000, with more than half the lost jobs coming out of the hospitality and leisure sector.
The City of Moab has laid off or furloughed 83 employees, 18 of whom had not yet worked or been paid in 2020. Two full-time employees have been furloughed.
The remaining part-timers worked at four departments that have been effectively shutdown by the COVID-19 virus — the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center, Moab Sports and Recreation, Moab Arts and Recreation Center and City Administration, according to City of Moab Human Resources Director Danielle Guerrero.
“The obvious reason for these layoffs and furloughs is because all of our facilities are currently closed to the public,” said Guerrero.
That’s the bad news. The good news is those affected can apply for unemployment insurance benefits and most of them are eligible for an additional unemployment payment of $600 a week as part of the federal stimulus package.
“A large portion of our laid off or furloughed employees will receive compensation equal to their normal pay” between the two payments, said Guerrero, Additionally, furloughed employees are still covered by the city’s health insurance.
Job loss data scheduled for release in May, which will include data from the full month of March and the first half of April, is expected to show nationwide unemployment in the double digits. Official data on Grand County job losses through mid-March will be available April 20. The next county-level data release following that is scheduled for May 26.