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On 9/11, pondering the COVID-19 recovery ahead

Kimberly Adams Sep 11, 2020
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People visit the 9/11 memorial plaza in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

On 9/11, pondering the COVID-19 recovery ahead

Kimberly Adams Sep 11, 2020
Heard on:
People visit the 9/11 memorial plaza in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The pandemic continues in the U.S., but here in New York — once the epicenter of the outbreak — there are signs of recovery, like the return of limited indoor dining, for example.

This slow recovery from a painful disaster is especially relevant for the city today on the anniversary of 9/11.

In addition to the emotional trauma of 9/11, the terrorist attacks triggered an economic downturn. But the pandemic recession will probably look more like the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, according to Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin.

“That’s because during the 2001 recession, it was very short and things bounced back very quickly,” Fairweather said. “During 2008, it was actually the financial sectors in New York that were impacted and people lost their jobs.”

Affecting the housing market, just like now.

The pandemic has prompted many people to leave the city, pushing down rental prices for homes and commercial real estate.

James Orr is a former vice president at the New York Fed and is currently at the City University of New York. He says New York’s recovery now, just like after 9/11, “is going to be in part dependent on how the national economy recovers, and how strong that is going forward.”

And that broader economic recovery can’t really get going until the pandemic is under control. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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