Experts at the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center are studying the economic domino effect that COVID-19 is having on South Florida and what the outlook may be for the future.
“There’s never been anything quite like this in terms of industry shutdowns or near-shutdowns, and these are our major industry sectors here in South Florida,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Met Center. Murray calls to mind the “Great Recession” of the late 2000s, where the United States lost 10 million jobs in the first two years, whereas with COVID-19, the nation has lost 10 million jobs in the first two weeks.
Murray gave that assessment during a webinar on the economy presented as part of a comprehensive research initiative on the pandemic launched by the Met Center.
“We felt we were equipped to take this on. We thought it was our responsibility as a major public university and think tank to do this, which is what got it all started,” Murray said.
Although there are more broad bodies of research that shed some light on the current economic obstacles facing the United States, the Met Center has created a three-point COVID-19 research initiative that tackles the economic impacts on South Florida’s various industries and employment sectors, the social environment impacts, and post-COVID-19 response strategies.
“Some groups such as migrant workers and workers in the informal economy are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the virus,” said Maria Ilcheva, assistant director of planning and operations for the center. “Women, who are overrepresented in the public health sector are particularly exposed to the virus.”
Ilcheva has worked to fill some of the knowledge gaps that may emerge related to the economy and help decision making in the COVID-19 aftermath, looking closely at the 1918 influenza pandemic. The 1918 pandemic has become the go-to case to analyze when comparing the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 to any pandemic experienced on this scale.
There is one likely impact, however, that has never been seen before – a total shift in services and education to the virtual space.
“I think my moniker for this recession is ‘The Great Accelerator’,” said Howard Frank, director of the Met Center. “It is probably going to accelerate a lot of things – and certainly in higher education – more online [services] and greater cost constraint.”
The full discussion can be found here.
The Met Center will present the second webinar in this series on Wednesday. You can register to attend here.