The Coronavirus Crisis Is Taking a Serious Bite Out of the Seattle-Area Economy

The strain on businesses and workers in the region is widespread and appears to be increasing, data shows
Updated: Fri, 03/13/2020 - 13:27
 
 
  • The strain on businesses and workers in the region is widespread and appears to be increasing, data shows

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Seattle-area economy is coming into clearer focus as key data is reported by area organizations and business on the front lines of the battle, and the picture isn’t pretty as of now.

The latest round of figures comes from the tourism-marketing nonprofit Visit Seattle and San Francisco-based tech company Homebase, which provides scheduling and time-tracking software tools for hourly workers to more than 100,000 businesses nationwide.

Visit Seattle and Washington State Convention Center officials report that the economic cost to of canceled client convention-center bookings in March alone resulted in a $20 million loss in economic impact. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s recently announced prohibition against public gatherings of 250 or more people puts at risk in April and May an additional $89 million — which is the estimated combined economic impact of events and meetings already booked at the convention center.

In addition, according to Visit Seattle, restaurants in the area are reporting that they are only about 40% to 50% full “and many of our attractions and arts/cultural institutions are seeing significant decreases in visitations as well.” On average, hotels in King County have seen a 52% drop in occupancy,

“This is an unprecedented time for our community and we are living in a stark new reality where a global health pandemic has and will continue to deeply impact our regional, national and global economy,” Visit Seattle President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Norwalk says “We all need to act as leaders, to support one another and our businesses, during this time and in any way we can. Seattle will re-open for business and, when we do, we will welcome the world back as a stronger community.”  

On another front, of the 800-plus businesses served by Homebase in the Seattle area, 4.1% had closed, at least temporarily, as of Wednesday, March 11, compared with Feb. 26, as the coronavirus outbreak and reactions to it by state and local officials accelerated. Over the same period, 10.9% of the 10,000-plus workers using Homebase software tools in the Seattle area had experienced shift reductions, according to the company’s data.

“COVID-19 [the coronavirus] is hitting both of these audiences [businesses and employees] very hard, and we should be concerned about the long-term impact,” says John Waldmann, founder and CEO of Homebase. “We are seeing an acceleration in business closures across the most impacted geographies. Businesses that are staying open are reducing shifts, and the cuts are increasing.”

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