Layoffs in Central Florida keep piling up

In the spring, as the new coronavirus began to spread throughout Central Florida, companies began shedding employees and Congress rushed in to provide some short-term relief.

Not knowing how severe the outbreak would become and how long its grip on the tourism-dependent region would last, executives hoped things would go back to normal soon.

But the layoffs haven’t stopped, and the calls to Congress for more help for the jobless and for the hotels, theme parks and other businesses that employed them have gone unanswered. It’s further evidence of the stark message Florida’s chief economist, Amy Baker, delivered to lawmakers Thursday that Florida tourism will take potentially three years to recover from this crisis.

In August alone, thousands more people were laid off or placed on furlough in Central Florida, mostly from hotels, according to a review of the state’s database.

The Hilton Orlando on Destination Parkway extended furloughs for 605 employees. The Orlando World Center Marriott laid off 601, saying it doesn’t expect occupancy to pick up until 2021. Eight Universal hotels, many of which have closed, furloughed or laid off 2,130 people.

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