Stevinson Automotive dismissed 336 workers at six dealerships across metro Denver on Monday, according to filings made with the Colorado Department of Labor.
They include 93 workers at Stevinson Toyota West in Lakewood; 73 workers at Stevinson Toyota East in Aurora; 71 at Stevinson Lexus of Lakewood; 34 at Stevinson Lexus of Frederick; 33 at Stevinson Chevrolet West in Lakewood; and 32 at Stevinson Imports in Littleton.
Those layoff notices, made under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, may represent only the tip of the iceberg in the auto retail industry. Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, estimates that between 8,000 to 9,000 auto retail workers are at risk of losing their jobs.
“Our sales offices are completely closed down. We can only do online sales with home delivery,” Jackson said. “We can’t use all of the sales people because we can’t have the showrooms open.”
Dealerships can keep service bays and parts departments open, but even those are running at reduced capacity as households hunker down under a statewide shelter-in-place order that started on Thursday. Stevinson Toyota West, for example, let go of 14 lube techs and four parts drivers.
When China shut down its economy to contain the novel coronavirus, auto sales dropped 92% in February, Jackson said. And while restrictions aren’t as extreme in the U.S., auto sales are expected to be down significantly.
They were already soft heading into the year, with new vehicle registrations down 2.8% from 2018, the first annual decline in three years, according to CADA.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act passed last week contains something called the Paycheck Protection Program that allows small businesses with 500 or fewer employees to obtain a loan of up to 2.5 times the monthly payroll.
Portions of that loan, which carry an interest rate of 4%, can be forgiven if the proceeds are used to keep workers employed. Jackson said Stevinson Automotive had more than 500 employees and didn’t qualify. But his hope is that smaller dealerships will take advantage, allowing them to have staff in place to deal with pent-up demand whenever the economy reopens.
Other WARN notices posted on Monday were for the Embassy Suites & Hilton Garden Inn in Boulder, which informed the state it was letting go of 126 workers last Friday, and the Holiday Inn Denver East Stapleton, which said it had dismissed two dozen people. Welk Resorts, which operates timeshare properties in Breckenridge and Vail, said it had laid off 29 workers as of March 20.
They join a growing list of hotels and resorts the state that have either shut down or trimmed staff significantly due to lower occupancy because of the outbreak.
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