Despite social, religious, and political differences, Tooele County has long been a place that comes together to help members of the community, taking care of each other like family.
That characteristic has been tested during 2020, especially as we enter the holiday season.
Due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated effects on the economy, the unemployment rate in the County rose almost overnight from 3.4% in March to 10.5% in April before declining to 4.8% in October.
To put a bit of a face on those percentage points, in October 2019 with a 2.7% unemployment rate there were 931 unemployed people looking for work that lived in Tooele County. In October 2020 there were 1,655 unemployed people in Tooele County looking for work, a 78% increase. That’s an additional 724 people in Tooele County looking for work.
The Switchpoint Resource Center in Tooele County reports an increasing number of households seeking assistance for food and other necessities.
That increase corresponds with national statistics that show an increase in households with food insufficiency, housing instability, and increased use of credit cards, savings, borrowing from friends and family, and government assistance to meet basic needs.
In October 2020, the average income in Tooele County soared, not because of a real increase in income throughout the community, but because employees at the bottom end of the pay scale were no longer working — those that earned the least were the hardest hit with pandemic related unemployment, according to the Department of Workforce Services.
At Thanksgiving time, Tooele County came together. Through donations of time and money, hundreds of Thanksgiving meals were prepared and donated to individuals and families in need.
With Christmas time ahead of us, Tooele County, as a community of people — with their family’s finances in some cases already stressed by the pandemic — will be asked to continue their support of several worthy causes to once again provide a little Christmas cheer in the way of gifts, clothing and food to families that might otherwise go without.
The need won’t end at the end of the year, organizations that provide food for people that find themselves in need will still need donations. Groups that provide clothing will still need warm clothing and footwear to keep people covered.
Looking at what happened during Thanksgiving, there is hope that Tooele County’s volunteer effort will carry forward to Christmas and into the new year.
We applaud and extend a thank you to those organizations, volunteers, and donors that support our community out of the kindness of their heart with no more thought of recognition than the good feeling that comes from helping a neighbor.