Business economists predict tough winter before 2021 rebound
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Many national business forecasters expect the economy to get back to pre-pandemic levels by the second half of next year. That’s according to a new survey from the National Association for Business Economists. But they still think it’s going to be a tough haul this winter after businesses saw growth this fall.
Patricia Moody is a consultant who works with a bicycle manufacturer in South Carolina. The company was busy all through the summer and fall.
“It was just a delightful surprise,” Moody said. “People would line up to get the unassembled bicycles as they came off the trucks.”
“Unquestionably, the news about a vaccine soon to be available, has, I think, sparked a good deal of optimism,” said Ken Simonson, an economist who works with the NABE.
But the recent surge of COVID-19 has tempered expectations for this winter.
“So I think, you know, there’s still a long way to go,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist with the National Association of Manufacturers.
While Moutray said overall manufacturing is down about 5% since before the pandemic, he points out car sales and electronics have done better than expected.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.
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