CARLSBAD — After a gradual economic recovery, Carlsbad may see another decline due to state closures imposed on July 13. But the city is working closely with local organizations to keep businesses open and residents employed.
Carlsbad’s unemployment rate as of May 2, when many businesses were completely closed, was about 25 to 30%. In June, unemployment lowered to 14 to 16%, with more people returning to work than people being laid off.
“To me, that’s probably temporary,” Mayor Matt Hall said. “After they just closed everything back down you’re going to see [unemployment] go back up again.”
During a July 14 Carlsbad City Council meeting, Hall estimated that out of the 20,000 people employed in Carlsbad’s leisure industry, a majority are now out of work.
With gyms closing for a second time, Carlsbad’s Crunch Fitness General Manager Brad Moser continues to collect unemployment. Even while open, fewer employees were needed as only about 30% of members actually returned and about half of the equipment was being used.
“As far as bringing people back, you want to make sure that they feel comfortable and confident,” Moser said. “We just opened with the general manager, some of the front desk people and the cleaning staff. I didn’t need a full staff because we weren’t getting the population that we normally get coming into the gym and some people were hesitant to come in.”
Carlsbad’s $5 million stimulus and business loan program began in May, but the city has yet to distribute any loans, as approximately 150 applications are currently being reviewed.
“We’re in close contact with businesses to make sure they’re aware of [the loan program], because if they’re having to close the second time then they might need assistance where they didn’t think they needed assistance before,” City Communication Director Kristina Ray said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we get additional businesses coming forward because it does seem like the COVID emergency is going to be affecting them for some time.”
Carlsbad businesses can now activate an outdoor space to continue operations and avoid full closures. More modifications may be created in the future as Carlsbad’s economy continues to fluctuate.
“I’ve never seen the City of Carlsbad, Chamber of Commerce, and Carlsbad Village Association work so close,” Hall said. “We are doing everything humanly possible to work with the businesses and make them aware of all the financing opportunities, loans and grants — federal, state and local — and getting them through the process. So it’s brought us closer together.”
In the region, with a COVID-19 case rate of 157.2 per 100,000 residents, San Diego County remains on the state monitoring list, requiring businesses such as gyms, malls and salons to operate outside only.
The current restrictions are in addition to other statewide indoor closures for businesses, including restaurants and theaters.