Not Working: COVID Shutdowns Drag on Economy

Remember March, when everyone was told to suck it up for a few weeks to help slow the spread of coronavirus? Well here we are, six months later, and "two weeks to flatten the curve" has become months of shutdowns, closures and restrictions that have left millions out of work or facing layoffs and some businesses shuttered for good. While millions of jobs have come back in recent months, many furloughed employees are being let go permanently and struggling airlines are planning to layoff thousands more this fall.

Another mantra of the early pandemic days, "we're all in this together," also rings hollow as some industries are struggling to survive while others are doing better than ever. "Obviously things like airlines and hospitality businesses are certainly seeing a big impact, but a lot of other companies that sell retail products are also having challenges," says Ray Perryman, economist with the Perryman Group.

Perryman tells KTRH that we're reaching a point where not all of the economic damage can be undone. "Going into this situation, the structure of the economy was if we came out of it with that structure still sound we could recover very quickly," he says. "But we're really in danger of letting that structure--people's families, people's livelihood--fall apart."

"I'm usually not one to advocate for deficit spending without any discipline, but at this point we're in a very critical situation," says Perryman. "We really do need the government to step in and do some things...even though I know it's tough in an election year environment, that really needs to happen."

Regardless of whether Congress and the White House can get another economic relief bill passed, Perryman predicts there won't be a full recovery unless we can fully reopen. "We are seeing a gradual comeback on employment, but nonetheless, until we can get control of the pandemic and know what the 'new normal' is gonna look like, it's going to be very difficult to really get the economy back on track," he says.

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