Expert Pitch
West Virginia University

West Virginia’s economy is vulnerable to a heavy hit from COVID-19

3-Apr-2020 12:25 PM EDT, by West Virginia University

As West Virginia continues its fight against the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus, a regional economist at West Virginia University sees vulnerabilities in the state’s industry structure and infrastructure that could make economic recovery difficult after the crisis passes.

Heather Stephens, assistant professor of resource economics and management in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, notes an industry-structure reliant on tourism and oil and natural gas, and West Virginia’s lack of broadband access are key areas to watch.

“We have an industry structure that makes us more vulnerable in the current crisis. Right now, about 13 percent of jobs in West Virginia fall under what Brookings and Moody’s have classified as currently highly vulnerable. That includes leisure and hospitality jobs and oil and gas.”

“Oil and gas are vulnerable because of the low prices in both markets. There is already an excess of supply of natural gas. The oil market is being hit because Saudi Arabia and Russia are flooding the market with as much oil as they can. And, we’re facing a huge decline in the demand for both oil and gas. For natural gas, much of this is due to the closure of schools and businesses who would use natural gas for heat and use more electricity. Basic economics tells us when supply is going up and demand is going down, prices are plummeting. And we’re likely to see some of the players in these industries go bankrupt. If nothing else, they’re going to start laying people off. Those are higher paying jobs that, at least in the short run, are going to go away.”

“The small businesses in our state, especially those in the hospitality industry, are also highly vulnerable during and after this crisis. I don’t really think that the day the ‘stay-at-home’ order goes away that people will immediately start traveling again. Yes, they might feel more comfortable talking to their neighbors close up, but they probably won’t go to places crowded with lots of people. I think it’s going to take a long time for that level of comfort to come back. Even with the current relief [federal stimulus package] coming through, if the economy takes a long time to recover, there’s going to be a point where small businesses can’t stay in business.”

“A large portion of our workforce that still has a job also cannot work from home. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, for people in the top 25 percent of income, about 60 percent nationally can work from home. But at lower-income percentages, the ability to work from home goes away. And, West Virginia has a lot of those lower-income jobs, which makes it less likely that workers can work from home. Even if their employer allowed them to work from home, they might not have adequate internet access to do so. Currently, West Virginia ranks 45th in the United States in broadband access which includes both wired and wireless. In this remote world, that puts a lot of West Virginians at a disadvantage. Thus, even if workers have jobs that allow them to work from home, that doesn’t mean they’re able.”

“Many economists and others believe that this crisis will lead to a fundamental shift in how our economy works. To compete, West Virginia will need to make critical investments in broadband – both wireless and wired – and in education, especially at the K-12 level. These investments have been needed for some time, but the crisis has exposed how critical they are. Broadband will not only facilitate work-from-home, it will promote better telemedicine and remote education and will provide support for the state’s small businesses; all of which will be critical to ensuring West Virginia’s can compete in the post-COVID economy.”

“In the meantime, to ensure a rapid recovery, we need to heed the stay-at-home orders, practice social distancing, wash our hands and help in other ways to minimize the rapid spread of the disease and ease the burden on our medical infrastructure. We can also help support local small businesses by doing little things like ordering takeout from local restaurants. It’s a tough time for everyone, but together we can get through this and focus on the recovery.”

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.

-WVU-

law/04/03/20

Call 1-855-WVU-NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.



Filters close

Showing results

2130 of 6110
Released: 29-Jul-2021 11:35 AM EDT
Combined Effects of Masking and Distance on Aerosol Exposure Potential
Mayo Clinic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended this week that people vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces in areas of the United States where the virus is spreading. “Appropriate masking in addition to vaccination remain the best methods to help protect individuals from the Coronavirus,” says Gregory Poland, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Mayo Clinic.

Newswise: Hopkins Med News Update
Released: 29-Jul-2021 11:00 AM EDT
Hopkins Med News Update
Johns Hopkins Medicine

NEWS STORIES IN THIS ISSUE: -Study: Race and Ethnicity May Impact Prevalence and Treatment of Heart Valve Dysfunction -Johns Hopkins Medicine Suggests Eliminating Nerve Cell Protein May Stop ALS, Dementia -Researchers Tell Doctors to Avoid Routine Urinary Tests for Older Patients with Delirium -Johns Hopkins Medicine Researchers Show How Air Pollution May Cause Chronic Sinusitis -Researchers ID Location on Brain Protein Linked to Parkinson’s Disease Development -COVID-19 News: The Return of Onsite Schooling — and How to Keep Your Kids Safe from COVID

Newswise: Tennessee Health Care and Public Health Leaders Urge Immediate Action to Protect State’s Children From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Released: 29-Jul-2021 10:35 AM EDT
Tennessee Health Care and Public Health Leaders Urge Immediate Action to Protect State’s Children From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Tennessee health care providers, public health professionals and community stakeholders today issued an urgent call to action to protect Tennessee children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Newswise: New Economic Dashboard Could Serve as Early Warning System for State-Level Recessions, Other Economic Shocks
Released: 29-Jul-2021 10:05 AM EDT
New Economic Dashboard Could Serve as Early Warning System for State-Level Recessions, Other Economic Shocks
University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame researchers developed the first near-real-time dashboard that tracks weekly state-level economic conditions.

Newswise: UAH’s Baudry Lab Part of Half-Million-Dollar Efforts to Target COVID with Drug Therapies
Released: 29-Jul-2021 10:00 AM EDT
UAH’s Baudry Lab Part of Half-Million-Dollar Efforts to Target COVID with Drug Therapies
University of Alabama Huntsville

Two different strategies to discover and perfect pharmaceuticals active against the COVID-19 virus have attracted a half million dollars in research funding to support five institutions, including the Baudry Lab at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

Released: 29-Jul-2021 9:55 AM EDT
Facebook News Consumers Less Likely To Be Vaccinated, Survey Finds
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

People who rely exclusively on Facebook for news and information about the coronavirus are less likely than the average American to have been vaccinated, according to a new survey.

Newswise: Public
Released: 28-Jul-2021 2:45 PM EDT
Highly Potent, Stable Nanobodies Stop SARS-CoV-2
Max Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

Göttingen researchers have developed mini-antibodies that efficiently block the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its dangerous new variants.

Newswise: Public
Released: 28-Jul-2021 2:20 PM EDT
Psychological Consequences of COVID-19 in Health Care
University of Bonn

Physicians, nursing staff, medical technical assistants, and pastoral workers in hospitals: they have all been placed under severe strain by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Newswise: Public
Released: 28-Jul-2021 2:10 PM EDT
Why Lockdown in Africa Does Not Work as a First COVID-19 Pandemic Response
University of Johannesburg

In an African pandemic it is more productive to consider lockdowns, after using other non-medical measures first, Especially in countries with high levels of poverty and corruption, says Prof Nicholas Ngepah, a Professor of Economics at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

Newswise:Video Embedded how-to-talk-with-people-who-are-not-vaccinated-against-covid-19
VIDEO
Released: 28-Jul-2021 1:40 PM EDT
How to Talk With People Who Are Not Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Cedars-Sinai

Even though she has asthma, putting her at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19, Angela Reeves-Flores, 33, waited until a week ago to get vaccinated.


Showing results

2130 of 6110

close
3.38673