Child care, delta variant, and slowing vaccine rates: State leaders acknowledge difficulties in getting people back to work
Carolina Public Press, a non-profit news organization, recently sponsored a virtual event where state business, civic, and education leaders discussed the ongoing issues affecting the state’s economic recovery.
Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina, said the state’s tourism and hospitality sector gained about 22,000 jobs between February and April. But he said the industry still faces challenges like losing about $11.5 billion in visitor spending across the state last year.
“There's about 20% of people that still say they won't travel. And there's about 25% of people that say they're not comfortable with people coming into their communities.”
Tuttell noted another major shift in the tourism industry during the pandemic: people choosing to stay in vacation rental properties over commercial lodgings like hotels, motels, and inns.
While the sector is recovering in coastal North Carolina, there’s still a struggle to get people to return to work.
Christopher Chung, CEO for Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said one of the roadblocks employers are contending with is childcare.
“If that causes that person to stay out of the workforce, because they need to be at home caring for that child, instead of having a childcare provider take care of them. I mean, that ends up becoming a workforce constraint as well.”
But Chung said the employment issue is complicated. He pointed to state and federal unemployment benefits as factors -- as well as concerns over the rise of the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates in some regions.