SUNBURY – A sharp economic recovery is coming as reopening begins from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Valley’s ‘uniqueness’ will help stabilize its local economy.
Economist Dr. Anirban Basu of Sage Policy Group shared these observations during a virtual economic forecast meeting hosted by the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, “As people walk back outside again to embrace the economy, they see some low interest rates. The pent up demand will be high for all kinds of things…going to restaurants, see a movie, and engage in most wonderful human activities.”
But currently, Dr. Basu says there is more economic pain from the pandemic than expected, with initial unemployment claims reaching the highest mark in history at about 2.4 million in the U.S.
Here in the Valley, as of March, Valley unemployment rates are 5.0% in Montour County, 5.1% in Union, 6.7% in Snyder, and 8.1% in Northumberland. But Dr. Basu says those rates are manageable, because the Valley is ‘unique’ compared to all of PA, the U.S. and globally, “The Greater Susquehanna Valley, I think, can really benefit from the creation of middle income jobs that come along with it. I see very positive things. Of course, being so connected to the nation’s highway system, having a candid workforce, having universities that are major forces in terms of research and development.”
Dr. Basu also says it makes sense to reopen now because small business owners can’t hold out anymore, “If this lasts through June into July, there’s going to be even more heartache. We can say, ‘wait to open up the economy until we get a vaccine, which could be when? Next year? We don’t know. ..We may never get a vaccine…or we can just get back to it. At some point you have to say, ‘Okay, let’s take some precautions,’ but we’ve got to reopen this economy.”
Dr. Basu says it may not be until at least 2022 or 2023 where the U.S. unemployment rate would drop below 5%, even if a vaccine were to be created soon.