Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Moab, UT

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    Grand: Highest unemployment in Utah

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    Carter Pape
    Carter Papehttp://moabtimes.awebstudio.com/author/carter-pape/
    Reporter Carter Pape covers news out of the Grand County Council Chambers, including housing, tourism, crime, and more.

    One in five workers is out of work

    The Quesadilla Mobilla is typically open at this time of year but currently is not because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restaurants and other businesses in Moab have closed due to a lack of travel from around the world, leaving many workers unemployed. Photo by Carter Pape

    According to Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Grand County currently has the highest rate of unemployment in the State of Utah as workers have been laid off or furloughed en masse in the absence of tourism amid fears and regulations with regard to COVID-19.

    Between March 16 and April 5, a larger percentage of Grand County workers filed for unemployment than any other county in Utah. Data from the Department of Workforce Services shows that a total of 931 Grand county residents newly filed for unemployment benefits during that period, which equates to roughly one in six workers.

    Compounded with the existing unemployment rate in March prior to the new filings, one in five workers in Grand County is now unemployed, the data suggests.

    “I would say there is no county that is more unique than what Grand County faces,” Cox said on Monday of the figures.

    Local workers have been hit hard by the economic havoc that COVID-19 has wrought across the country. Moab relies heavily on tourism for business revenue of all kinds, and with the valley closed to visitors since a local health order implemented on March 17 closed hotels to nonresidents of the county, seasonal workers hoping to get back on the job have been met instead with layoffs.

    Many of these workers have run out or soon will run out of unemployment benefits that they get through the state.

    Cox discussed some of the efforts the state is making to support Moab as it confronts the economic crisis, including a discussion over allocations from the state’s $1 billion rainy-day fund to support hard-hit municipalities across the state, and federal money provided by the CARES Act that is also intended for cities and counties.

    For more on these efforts, see related story.

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