The speed and strength of our economic recovery from COVID-19 will depend on the timeliness and inclusivity of our state’s policy response.
If we wait to deploy dollars and connect more people and businesses to the necessary supports for health, housing, and income, North Carolina’s recovery will take longer. It will also result in costly long-term damage to the wealth, stability, and health of our neighbors. As researchers at the New York Fed have found the importance of timely and adequate early policy interventions during a public health crisis can make a significant difference in the trajectory of a community’s recovery.
Already, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that unemployment rates will remain as high in 2021 as they were during the highest points in the Great Recession — 10%.
Nationally, the scope of need is staggering and unlike any economic event in modern history.
- All the job gains realized since 2000 were erased with the 20.5 million job losses in April 2020.
- 50% of small businesses face risks, losses and potential closures due to COVID-19.
Yesterday, 100 county snapshots for North Carolina were released to show the barriers that persisted through the last economic expansion for too many communities and people in our state. This data — along with emerging measures of need in light of COVID-19 — should signal the urgency of a robust response that seeks to secure recovery for everyone and all communities.
It’s worth repeating: Quick deployment of dollars and policies to minimize the harm to people will strengthen the state’s recovery and ensure that the new rules of the game better support our collective well-being.
The needs are stark and make clear the wide-reaching effects of the virus on every person. For example, there have been nearly 15,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 500 deaths in North Carolina since the start of the pandemic, adding to the already high numbers of people without health insurance.
With reopening underway and people returning to their jobs, too many workers are at greater risk for infection because protections are not in place. Personal protective equipment is available at varying levels, with just 31 days’ worth of supply for N95 masks and no gowns.
And since our last economic expansion kept too many people living paycheck to paycheck, many families are struggling even more now to meet basic needs. Food and housing insecurity were already high before COVID-19, and evidence of missed meals and missed rent payments is mounting. Read more