Salt Lake County Regional Development News
July 21, 2020
Utah State Tax Commission released data for May’s taxable sales on July 16, providing another snapshot of Salt Lake County’s economy during COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Salt Lake County’s Economic Impact Working Group has worked with the State Tax Commission to get data sets faster to more quickly visualize local economic indicators on the Economic Impact Information Portal. A first glance of May 2020, Salt Lake County saw a 2.4% increase in total taxable sales over May 2019, which is a departure from April’s 5.9% decrease over the previous April. In May, online shopping taxable sales were the strongest and grew by $85.5 million dollars.
On the flipside, restaurants and bars continue to feel the pain of large declines. In May, the industry saw upwards of $58 million decrease in sales – an improvement over April, but still the largest monetary decline of all Salt Lake County’s industries by far. This was also during the time of the State lifting some restrictions with color-coded phases, and COVID-19 cases in the County only totaling approximately 2,811 for the month.
The restaurant industry’s May decrease can be seen on the Info Portal’s new dashboard page: 2019-2020 Taxable Sales Comparison, which allows users to directly compare data during COVID-19 months and view the dollar amount changed, as well as the percent change by major business categories.
Looking at the months of COVID-19 collectively, the industry with the greatest percentage decrease has now become Accommodations after inclusion of May’s preliminary data. The industry’s taxable sales have dropped 65%.
Because Salt Lake County is working to get data more quickly, it should be noted that the current data is preliminary and subject to revision due to late returns, amended returns, required statutory/regulatory changes, and others that impact tax return data. We would also like to note for County and city officials that this metric is different than the tax distribution they will receive for May.
Taxable sales data is obtained from sales tax returns from monthly, quarterly, and annual filers. Taxable sales data reported by quarterly and annual filers are included in the last month of each quarter and year. This results in relatively higher taxable sales numbers in filing periods at the end of each quarter.
The Info Portal, found at https://slco.org/slcomunidata/, is a new tool created during COVID-19 to help Salt Lake County assess the pandemic’s economic impact so policies and programs can aid in short- and long-term economic recovery.
School districts across Utah are required to let the state know their plans for re-opening by Aug. 1, based on planning requirements outlined by the Utah State Board of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many districts are in the process of proposing plans and adopting changes, based on parent and teacher feedback.
As key stakeholders in Utah education debate best courses of action, top concerns for 2020-21 school year emphasize equity (or lack of), access to affordable, high-quality childcare, the unforeseen expenses of childcare and that potential impact on families making ends meet.
Among questions that still need solutions are how does Utah, and Salt Lake County, leverage existing programs? Where are childcare deserts? Will Congress' discussion of additional funding include childcare?
The following summarizes plans currently proposed and under finalization for seven school districts, including Canyons, Granite, Jordan, Murray, Salt Lake, as well as Alpine and Davis.
Canyons School DistrictFirst Day of Classes: Aug. 17
An update to the proposed plan was presented to the Board of Education on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.
- Would be issued a device and arrange for connectivity
- Not real-time classes
- Not directly connected to their neighborhood or teacher
- In case of temporary re-closure: Spring soft closure plans updated for later use
Granite School District
The School Board approved a re-opening plan on July 14. Individual school plans will be posted on websites Aug. 5.
First Day of Classes: Aug. 24Option 1 Attendance Plan: In-Person Instruction
- Traditional calendar
- Based off the Spring model, with modifications and enhancements
- Monday-Thursday, with students divided in half alphabetically for scheduling
- Half attend Monday and Wednesday
- Half attend Tuesday and Thursday
- All Fridays are remote
Jordan School District
The final re-opening plan will be released by July 24; parts were approved on July 6.
First Day of Classes: Aug. 18
- Students will not attend on Fridays, will conduct learning at home
- Courses created by teachers during the summer
- Will include teacher interaction
Murray School DistrictFirst Day of Classes: Aug. 17
- First 2 weeks of school will be early dismissal
- Kindergarten begins Sept. 8
Option 2: Blended Learning Resource
- Allows students to jump between in-person and through technology should a student be absent or become ill
- Student will attend in-person except when absent
- Families that do not want to send their students back will have these options.
- Available for all Grades K-12
- Canvas will be used by secondary schools and Google Classroom for elementary schools
- Meal service will be developed for students learning at home
- The Online Learning-Independent option is self-directed and overseen by a teacher with all learning strictly online
- Only available for Grades 7-12
- Planning Document
- Compare the different schooling options for Grades 7-12
- Compare the different schooling options for Grades K-6
Salt Lake City School District
First Day of Classes: Aug. 25
Scenario 1: If in Red or Orange Phase, SLCSD instruction will be online onlyScenario 2: If in Yellow, schools will begin on “Modified Schedule,” which includes learning in class and remote learning
- Student schedules will vary by day and will be communicated by principals
- Mondays/Thursdays and Tuesdays/Fridays
- Wednesdays will be digital learning
- Class sizes will be smaller to facilitate social distancing
- Canvas will be used as a consistent learning platform for all classes
- Lunch in classrooms
- Path for parents who don’t want their kids to go to school in person
Surrounding Districts that can Impact SLCo Commuting Workforce
Alpine School District
First Day of Classes: Aug. 18
Option 1: Face-to-Face Instruction
- Modified schedule: Elementary students released 1 hour early
- Exact schedule will be released after July 27 once the District receives parent declarations
- Face-to-face interaction with teachers at least 2x per week
- All will have an assigned class schedule with ASD teachers
- Google Classroom is the learning platform for elementary, Canvas for secondary educators and students
- For students and parents intending to provide homeschooling with support
- Online full time
Davis School District
First Day of Class: Aug. 25
Option 1: In-Person
- 5 days a week
- Traditional early-out/late-start: Friday elementary dismissal: 1:25 p.m., Friday junior high dismissal: 2 p.m., Tuesday high school late start: 1 hour.
- Work online with a teacher during school hours
- Not enrolled in original school
- Work online independently at own pace with active parent support
- Not enrolled in original school
Education Changes’ Impact on the Health of the Workforce and EconomyExperts in education and children's needs are convening to identify solutions for problems exacerbated by COVID-19.
- Childcare & Schedules
- Can the Childcare Industry infrastructure support families from school districts who are out additional school days, and whose parents cannot stay home from work?
- What resources are available to students who must continue learning at home but have working parents?
- What percentage of the workforce can work from home? What percentage of the workforce cannot work from home?
- What problems will arise and need solutions from irregular schedules in elementary and secondary schools? How will these irregularities impact the workforce?
- Cost of additional childcare
Can families support the burden of unplanned costs for increased childcare due to COVID-19? How might that impact their ability to make ends meet -- food security, housing stability
- Food Security
According to GSD, those surveyed that qualify for free meals were also more likely to prefer distanced learning. How are students (and their families) going to be fed if learning remotely or only in school 2-3 days a week?
Do the school districts feel there are sufficient teachers or substitutes available should others become ill? Can the workforce meet this need?
- Education Funding
In reverse, do leaders anticipate the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 could result in a Recession-like repeat of teacher cuts following in 2021-22 or subsequent school years? What solutions can be put in place if education revenue drops 10%
- School Supplies
Do schools in Salt Lake County have enough PPE or money to source PPE?
- Resources at Charter Schools and Private Schools
Do COVID-19 changes put charter schools at heightened economic risk?
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SALT LAKE COUNTY — In March, seemingly a lifetime ago, the community was just responding to the increasing public health risk of COVID-19. As efforts to limit the spread were put into place to keep residents safe, Salt Lake County was also concerned about understanding how COVID-19 would affect other areas of life.
The Salt Lake County Economic Impact Working Group was formed that same month with the goal to understand and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. While there are dozens of economic indicators on a federal and state level, assessing local economic impacts on a monthly basis proved to be more difficult. And yet, local economic indicators are crucial to fiscal staff and elected leaders making data-driven decisions.
The Economic Impact Information Portal was created to address that gap after surveying cities in the valley. The tool provides targeted support to municipalities by increasing accessibility to local data and visualizing indicators, like monthly sales tax disbursements, Class B & C Road Funds, and a model of fiscal impact.
The new economic tool can be accessed at https://slco.org/slcomunidata
Multiple municipalities were interested in seeing and comparing the economic downturns of the Great Recession to the current time of COVID-19; a dashboard visualizing taxable sales from 2006-2020 allow
"Statewide economic impact estimates exist, but cities told us that these statewide estimates didn't match the local context for many sectors,” said Saskia DeVries, a Data and Performance Analyst for the Office of Data and Innovation. “For instance, some tourism-dependent towns expect much sharper declines in accommodations and food service sales. We built an interactive model to allow the experts in these local economies, the municipal fiscal analysts, to adjust the impact estimates themselves."
For example, a dashboard visualizes historic taxable sales comparing 2019 and 2020, showing decreases in multiple major business NAICS categories beginning with the onslaught of COVID-19 cases in Utah. However, it also shows that some industries saw increases – food and beverage stores, online retailers and building and gardening suppliers for home improvement.
Another interesting finding gathered from the visualizations is Magna Township’s unusually large increase in taxable sales in March and continuing into April, while other municipalities saw decreases. Construction jumped significantly, and might be put into context when one recalls Utah’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Magna the hardest.
These new ways to interact with local data are possible because of the swift collaboration of multiple key agencies in the state with the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development and Office of Data & Innovation, including: the Utah State Tax Commission, Utah Department of Transportation, Department of Workforce Services, Utah League of Cities and Towns and others.
Salt Lake County anticipates adding new data sets throughout COVID-19 economic recovery efforts as it continues to innovate with partners to meet the needs of the valley. This tool can also increase residents’ access and understanding of important data sets used by local governments.