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Gov. Cox says Utah economy still trying to recover from COVID-19
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Gov. Cox says Utah’s economy still trying to recover from COVID-19

(Utah State Capitol complex. Credit: Paul Nelson, file)

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Spencer Cox says the state’s economy is still trying to recover from the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he calls the biggest downturn Utah has ever seen.  He says we’re in a good position to do that, but there could be some problems.

One of the industries hardest hit in Utah by the COVID-19 pandemic is the entertainment industry.  The Utah Cultural Alliance issued their 2020 State of Utah Culture Report saying over 3,000 jobs have been impacted, roughly 22,000 independent contractors lost work, and the cultural industry lost over $76 million.

They also estimate venues and promoters had to roll over $17 million worth of tickets into 2021.  Utah Symphony-Utah Opera had to do the same thing, and CEO Steve Brosvik says they will definitely feel the strain in the future.

“We’re applying for our ticket buyers into next year, or this spring if they want to partake in a concert.  But, there will be no new cash coming in,” Brosvik says.

He says the companies have made many changes over the course of the year.  They were allowed to have reduced audiences for a while, but venues were closed when hospitalizations spiked.  Brosvik says they pivoted to streaming online concerts and make more educational videos for schools, plus they had to make some painful cuts.

“Our musicians and staff have all taken a pretty significant pay cut this year,” he says.

The companies are doing “ok” for now, but they’ve been getting a lot of help to keep them afloat.  Brosvik says they received federal funding from the federal CARES Act, a lot of support from their season ticket holders and some very generous donations.  Without that continued support, combined with the pay cut to employees, their situation would be much worse.

Utah’s hospitality industry is also taking a massive economic hit.  The UCA report shows that the industry lost over $70 million between March and November of 2020.

Governor Spencer Cox says, “There are still households and industries that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and will need a longer time before they achieve full recovery.”

Some industries, like travel and outdoors, have fared very well during the pandemic.  However, that could be due to federal stimulus money, and economists have some concerns about that.

Governor Cox says, “All of that money is in the system.  What happens when we don’t have that anymore?”

Despite these issues, Governor Cox doesn’t believe it would be a good idea to extend the moratorium on evictions.  He says the state still has a lot of funding available for people in need that people can apply for through the state’s coronavirus website.

 

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