CORAL SPRINGS, FL - Across the nation, a drop in consumer spending -- which accounts for as much as 70 percent of the economy -- is battering communities, as people avoid stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other public places, a study said.  

Coral Springs is no different.

The economic disruption caused by the coronavirus has led to furloughs, layoffs, and shutdowns across the city, especially in the leisure and hospitality industries.

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A new report showed that unemployment in Coral Springs hit 14.6 percent in April – up from 4.1 percent in March and 2.8 percent in February, according to the latest figures from Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

In all, 9,754 people were unemployed in Coral Springs out of 67,003 in the labor force in April. Read more about the data in our story here.

For Coral Springs’ economic development director, Kristi Bartlett, the data was no surprise, and it will be one of the subjects of a City Commission discussion on Wednesday.

“It was taken mid-month in April, so it is possible that we will see another jump in May,” she said. “I hope that it will plateau” as people will “adjust to the new normal.”

The data didn’t break down the job losses related to industries, but Bartlett said the leisure and hospitality sector in Coral Springs has been particularly hard hit. The sector includes businesses in food and accommodation, arts, entertainment, and recreation.

And, according to a Brookings Institute study, leisure and hospitality is among the nation’s five most vulnerable sectors in the coronavirus economy. The other sectors are transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, and mining/oil and gas.

The study said: “More than 24.2 million Americans work in the five high-risk sectors facing a sharp slowdown. This will likely prompt significant work disruptions, furloughs, and other uncertainties in the coming months.”

In response, Bartlett, along with other city officials, as well as business leaders involved in the city’s Economic Recovery Task Force, have offered a variety of programs to prevent businesses from laying off more workers or closing permanently.

Among the many initiatives:

- Launching the “Connecting Local Businesses to Grants and Loans” program to help owners apply for state and federal loans and grants, and save jobs.

- Starting a business assistance hotline.

- Launching the “Give Where You Live” campaign to raise money for people struggling to pay for basic necessities.

- Relaxing parking restrictions to permit curbside pickup at restaurants.

- Posting restaurant delivery and takeout information on social media.

At Wednesday’s City Commission workshop, officials will discuss these and other strategies they are working on to keep the local economy flowing.

Those ideas include:

- Issue a temporary moratorium on outdoor tents for restaurants to expand outdoor seating.

- Continue distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety information related to the virus.

- Continue connecting businesses to loans and grants.

- Start a buy-local public relations campaign (I Love Local Coral Springs).

 

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