Economist says a pre-pandemic normal is a long way off


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Economic experts say every business has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Even with different industries starting to open back up, they estimate it’s going to be a long while before things get back to pre-pandemic status.

Director of economic vitality for the city of Fayetteville, Devin Howland, said some industries have been hit harder than others, including food industries, cosmetology, and even healthcare.

Many industries have made adjustments to stay afloat, but still are not making as much as in the past.

Howland said looking at the economy over the next several years, it’s not just a matter of businesses being able to make sales, but considering if people will even be comfortable patronizing them.

This is especially important to consider since many industries are connected in ways people don’t think about.

“The performing arts is a great example,” Howland said. “If the virus subsided in one area and you have a traveling show, if that show can’t hit Chicago and these other big cities, are they going to come to these smaller places? No.”

Almost 44 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic started, with more applications coming in even as the country reopens.

Howland said many of the people most impacted by the virus were already in lower wage jobs, adding it’s likely a lot of those jobs won’t come back for a long time, if ever.

Re-skilling will be a priority according to Howland, which will include determining which industries are looking for workers and building the skills needed to work in them.

“We’re going to continue to see innovations in education,” Howland said. “We’re going to continue to see different offerings, whether they be more short term education programs that lead to credentials. That was already something that was happening across the state and across the country that’s becoming more and more popular.”

Howland also stressed it’s important to know the city offers workforce resources for those that need it.

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