Early signs delta variant is denting generally-strong York economy


YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The news, for now, is mostly good, and key local indicators aren’t suggesting otherwise.

But — based on an otherwise-rosy “State of the Economy” report and a conversation with a key local businessman — the first subtle signs are emerging that the COVID-19 delta variant could be negatively impacting the local economy.

First, the good news.

“We’re actually almost back to pre-pandemic unemployment levels, so that’s a very good sign for the economy,” Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA), which issued the report said.

The report noted York County’s unemployment rate of 5.6 percent for June, the most recent month available, which compared with a statewide rate of 6.4 percent. (July figures are due out Wednesday.)

Hard-hit industries showed particular improvement.

“The data that we have collected on the hospitality and the tourism sector shows that consumers had pent-up demand and are spending money and are having fun,” Schreiber said.

One such hospitality business? The York Revolution, the city’s Atlantic League minor-league baseball franchise.

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“We did see pent-up demand,” Eric Menzer, the team’s president said. “Early in the season, we saw people want to get out and do things with their families that felt outdoors and safe.”

On the other hand, Menzer has seen one anecdotal data point — and only one, so far — of a concern noted in the YCEA report.

“We have in fact had a first event — a non-baseball event, scheduled indoors for this fall in one of our hospitality spaces [at PeoplesBank Park] — that was just canceled by the company that booked that. So I do have some concerns.”

National economic data have indicated a recent decline in consumer confidence. As for the thus-far lone event cancellation?

“In this case it was a business that I think assumed that by the fall, everything would be at least, if not completely back to normal, largely back to normal,” Menzer said. “Unfortunately, with the resurgence, with the delta variant, I do see a little more sign that some businesses are pulling back, are being a little more cautious.”

What can hospitality businesses do about that?

“There’s no point dwelling on it,” Menzer said. “We have to press forward, we have to have alternate plans,” as organizations like the Revs have learned and re-learned during the past 17 months.

Another bright spot in the report: The YCEA says the new York County U.S. Census count, which rose 5 percent for 2020 compared to 2010, was up by more than the census had projected prior to the actual count.

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