It has been a difficult year and a half running a business in Park City.
First, the coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors last spring and has since forced them to take extraordinary measures to keep workers and customers safe. And now employers find themselves facing yet another crisis: a worker shortage that appears to be even more pronounced than the labor shortages preceding the coronavirus.
The pandemic will one day be a thing of the past. But it’s harder to see the end of the hiring crisis given the circumstances that created it, from the region’s high cost of living to changing workforce demographics.
The shortage, as employers well know, is nothing new. For years, businesses have struggled to hire enough helpers. But the trends heading into this ski season may be darker than ever. Some employers were reportedly forced to reduce their working hours due to a lack of staff. Others have found creative ways to get the job done with fewer workers. Few, if any, were spared.
More than just unwanted business news, hiring issues are troubling for the community as a whole. Summit County Director of Economic Development Jeff Jones, for his part, sees the potential of the shortage to exacerbate some of the most pressing problems we face.
The cost of living in Park City could rise further as businesses charge higher prices in order to pay employees more money and consumers then seek higher wages themselves to pay for more expensive goods and services. . This cycle could have impacts ranging from the erosion of the community atmosphere, as even fewer blue-collar workers and young professionals can live here, to the increase in traffic jams as companies, in turn, recruit more workers in the region. peripheral areas.
What’s the best way to stem the tide? Companies offering perks like flexible hours, childcare allowances, and extra paid time off can help, but the best solution is a familiar refrain in discussions about the future of our community: building more affordable housing. and give workers the opportunity to take root.
As we have seen over the decades, alleviating the affordable housing shortage is a thorny problem in itself. He thwarted local officials despite their best efforts. But the current hiring challenges make it clear that we are at a crossroads: if we are not able to make meaningful progress in affordable housing, and soon our businesses and our community will suffer.