COVID-19

How the pandemic is changing South Carolina manufacturing

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Apr 15, 2020
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Inside Assembly North at BMW's Spartanburg manufacturing facility, the biggest BMW factory in the world. Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace
COVID-19

How the pandemic is changing South Carolina manufacturing

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Apr 15, 2020
Inside Assembly North at BMW's Spartanburg manufacturing facility, the biggest BMW factory in the world. Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace
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More than 200 international companies have operations in South Carolina’s Spartanburg County. The area’s biggest employer is the BMW plant, which has temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the virus shuttering much of the global economy, many of Spartanburg’s manufacturers are still open for essential business.

Sixty-five percent of manufacturing companies there are operating in some capacity, according to David Britt, chair of the economic development committee of the Spartanburg County Council. Some facilities have even pivoted to produce medical and protective equipment needed to fight the virus. Britt spoke with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the challenges of manufacturing during the crisis and what it will take to keep factories running.

“For industry to come back in full force, or even halfway, we need reliable tests, and that’s a huge problem,” Britt said. “In manufacturing, we need masks, we need gloves — but most importantly — we need tests.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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