On Cape, consumer confidence key to curbing unemployment – Boston University News Service – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2020-11-21 11:00:00 –

Gwyneth Burns
BU news service

Cape Cod’s unemployment rate has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic clashed with the region’s seasonal economy. Today, parliamentarians, community leaders, and residents are trying to predict an uncertain future.

Many companies in Cape have been closed for several months after Governor Charlie Baker’s state of emergency and forced closure. It resumed slowly in early June, and although the local economy is not yet fully operational, it welcomes visitors.

Wendy Northcross, Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said:

The Chamber of Commerce encourages safe travel to the region to boost the economy and expects employment rates to rise as more guests return to Cape and the island.

“Tourism is very resilient and can be easily reopened through targeted marketing than in other sectors where the supply chain is significantly disrupted,” said Northcross. “Agile marketing plans that present current travel conditions and ensure guest safety contribute to our resilience.”

Massachusetts had an unemployment rate of 2.8% when COVID-19 interrupted its routine in March. But by May, that percentage had increased to 19.6% in Barnstable County. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the county’s unemployment rate in September was 11.5%.

In October, the national unemployment rate fell to 6.9% as economic activity resumed.

The accommodation and food and beverage sectors have been hit hardest, according to Northcross. According to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, more than 2,350 people remained unemployed in the sector during the peak of Cape’s tourist season in August.

“Currently, the unemployment rate is approaching 10%, which is significantly higher than about 30% in some towns, such as Provincetown, which we experienced in April and May,” said Northcross. I will. “Still, we are working to rehire accommodation and food service employees by promoting safe travel to the region.”

Prior to the pandemic, the Cape tourists were expected to increase by 7% in anticipation of a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, according to the Chamber of Commerce. However, in March, due to a pandemic, the Chamber of Commerce began forecasting a loss of about 50% from last year’s business.

“There was a real business cycle here, and I owned a bed and breakfast for 23 years, so I was part of that cycle,” said Salapeak, a member of the D-Provincial Town legislature. “They talk about 100 Golden Day to make money, and then many companies close or operate with much less capacity.”

According to Peak, the economy relies on summer capital during the winter to maintain business and livelihoods until the start of the next season, which was confused during the pandemic.

“Given our seasonal economy, Cape and the islands have some of the highest unemployment rates in the off-season,” said Senator Julian Sill of D-Truro. “Unemployment is expected to be higher here. Given the COVID-19, it could be even higher this year.”

Many companies that traditionally opened in the spring did not open this year, as the state was still in the early stages of a reopening plan. Because of this, Mr. Peak said many employees were unable to start working at the beginning of the season. This has led legislators to expand unemployment insurance to support business owners and independent contractors.

Peake is focused on ensuring more support for SMEs.

“Everyone here is a small business owner, with the exception of some big banks and some companies or educational institutions,” said Peak. “My concern is that the state needs to implement an economic development package in April next year to help seasonal communities and business owners reopen.”

State legislators know that not all regions of Massachusetts, especially tourism hotspots, have a universal aid approach, and parties and districts to design packages to support seasonal SMEs. We are working beyond the boundaries of. ..

“There are industries that are seasonal in nature, especially in the outer capes and islands, but there are seasonalities that are unique to the region as a whole,” Cyr said. “We’re not too worried about it. Yes, it’s always a concern, but we’re more worried about long-term unemployment.”

It’s too early to predict whether 2021 will enable a near-normal summer, as everything depends on the pandemic situation, Cyr said. The state is in the midst of a resurgence of coronavirus cases, including the Cape and the islands.

According to Northcross, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce will release the Tourism Marketing Fund allocated to the Tourism Trust Fund to the Baker administration by January 1 and implement the state legislature’s economic development bill on recovery tourism marketing. I’m working on it. The bill includes $ 4 million for regional tourism councils such as the Chamber of Commerce.

According to Northcross, the Chamber of Commerce has also submitted a grant application to the Department of Economic Development, which is part of the US Department of Commerce, to cover the dollar lost from state funding.

Resuming the economy depends on financial support, but also on the trust of visitors and the willingness to return to Cape and Islands.

“The local hospitality industry is strictly following protocols to reopen, stay open and create business,” said Northcross. “Consumers need to know this and understand how testing and contact tracing work to keep residents and guests safe and to increase their resilience to the economy.”

This article was originally published in Cape Cod Times.

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