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Keys to Economic Recovery from COVID-19

Written by: Molly Gaskin

Community leaders emphasized the importance of public health messaging and precautions on both the individual and organizational levels. They identified mask wearing and rapid testing as major needs for their communities to be able to reopen and improve the local economy, especially in the leisure and hospitality industries, which are struggling under limited capacity. Community leaders also relayed concerns about the delayed financial impact on local governments as the federal CARES money dwindles. The community leaders described solutions they pursue, including local grants and loan programs to help sustain small businesses. They also emphasized the importance of regional and cross-sectoral collaboration in economic recovery, especially in larger communities.



The ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government and NCGrowth at the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise partnered to convene civic leaders across North Carolina to gather information about how to help their communities recover economically during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Anita Brown-Graham presented information from the ncIMPACT Initiative’s NC Local Government Early Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic survey. Molly Gaskin and Andreina Malki shared framing data about health indicators, local economic conditions, and housing conditions.

Covid-19 by Race and Ethnicity

COVID-19 has impacted North Carolinians disproportionately across racial and ethnic groups. According to data compiled in The COVID Tracking Project’s Racial Data Dashboard, Black or African American people in North Carolina represent a disproportionate percentage of deaths from COVID-19, representing 21% of the population but 33% of the deaths. The Hispanic or Latino population is even more disproportionately affected, representing only 9% of the population but 44% of the COVID-19 cases. The disparity is especially apparent in that the White population represents nearly 70% of the population of North Carolina but only 56% of cases and 58% of deaths.

Covid-19 Infection Rate by Population Density

The Health Advocacy Project conducted an internal analysis of NC Department of Health & Human Services COVID-19 dashboard data to evaluate the impact of the virus on rural and urban/suburban counties. Data indicate that rural counties in North Carolina face larger numbers of COVID-19 cases, contrary to early beliefs that the virus would only impact more densely populated cities. Instead, rural counties outpace both the state and urban/suburban counties in infection rate per 100,000 people.

Vulnerable Jobs by Sector

The Brookings Institution published a breakdown of vulnerable jobs by sector across the United States. They defined vulnerable jobs as those paying wages less than median wage adjusted for location, and those not covered by employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. In North Carolina, the Hospitality and Retail sectors contained the greatest number of vulnerable jobs, followed by Healthcare, Manufacturing, Administrative, and Government. However, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Administrative, and Government all had a large share of non-vulnerable jobs as well.

Consumer Consternation Index

The Economic Growth Initiative provides a variety of economic and social indicators through the Opportunity Insights interactive dashboard. One of the major indicators was a consumer consternation index. The index displays the relative “reluctance or inability of individuals to conduct non-essential activities away from home.” Consumer consternation in North Carolina has largely matched that of the US as a whole. North Carolina has had a slightly higher level of consumer consternation than the US since the summer, but North Carolina’s confidence and ability to conduct non-essential activities out of the home appears to be growing to match that of the US. The decreasing consumer consternation could point to increased consumer confidence as a result of public health supports.

 

The Webinars

The first webinar provided valuable insights from community leaders across North Carolina. Community leaders emphasized the importance of public health messaging and precautions on both the individual and organizational levels. They identified mask wearing and rapid testing as major needs for their communities to be able to reopen and improve the local economy, especially in the leisure and hospitality industries, which are struggling under limited capacity. Community leaders also relayed concerns about the delayed financial impact on local governments as the federal CARES money dwindles. The community leaders described solutions they pursue, including local grants and loan programs to help sustain small businesses. They also emphasized the importance of regional and cross-sectoral collaboration in economic recovery, especially in larger communities.

Communities expressed concern that the reliance on outside funding is unsustainable, as well as a desire to create sustainable solutions for their own communities and regions. Discussions also highlighted the importance of communication both within the communities and from external sources. Some communities expressed the need for clear communication about public health guidelines and safe reopening practices.

The project includes a series of webinars, which are free to attend. Individuals may register for the series by registering once using this link: https://go.unc.edu/s2N4T. All webinars begin at 2 p.m. on these dates:

October 28: Innovations in the Face of Crisis

November 18: Collaborations in the Face of Crisis

January 27: Using Data to Drive Decisions in the Face of Crisis

Testing the Keys for Economic Recovery project supported by the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with funding from the North Carolina Coronavirus Relief Fund established and appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly. Learn more about project findings, upcoming webinars, case studies and resources at https://go.unc.edu/KeystoRecovery.

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