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Waco economist looks at recovery from economic downturn

A Waco economist said Monday that once a lasting solution to the COVID-19 issue is developed, long-term prospects for the national economy remain positive. (MGN)
A Waco economist said Monday that once a lasting solution to the COVID-19 issue is developed, long-term prospects for the national economy remain positive. (MGN)(WTOK)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 5:30 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco economist said Monday that once a lasting solution to the COVID-19 issue is developed, long-term prospects for the U.S. economy remain positive.

“The current economic crisis was caused by a health crisis, and to ultimately resolve the economic crisis requires effectively dealing with the pandemic situation,” Dr. Ray Perryman, principal at Waco’s Perryman Group, said in his forecast issued Monday.

And he says it appears the country is on the right track: “Following significant surges in many states, signals in late July have been modestly encouraging, with case numbers beginning to level off and COVID-related emergency room visits trending downward,” Perryman wrote.

“Nonetheless, it will be a while before daily life, or the economy can approach normal.”

The new stimulus package being negotiated should provide relief for a few extra months to many people who have lost jobs or otherwise suffered, and another round of stimulus checks may also be forthcoming, helping household budgets across the country, Perryman noted.

“The measure is being negotiated in a contentious election-year environment, and will likely be far from ideal,” Perryman pointed out.

Funds to be used by schools to reopen more safely are also under consideration, as are aid for health care institutions, state and local governments, small businesses, and other areas, Perryman said.

Perryman noted the US job market has improved as businesses have reopened, though total employment remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels.

“The most recent reports indicate gains of 2.7 million jobs in May and 4.8 million in June, with a decrease in the unemployment rate from 14.7% in April to 11.1% in June,” he said.

“However, the total increase over the past two months is far below the loss of 22.2 million during March and April.

“Moreover, the situation remains challenging and fluid, and momentum appears to be slowing a bit as some reopening moves were reversed.”

In Perryman’s latest forecasts indications are that 2021 will see the US economy regain a significant portion of activity lost through 2020.

“We are projecting a decrease in real gross product of 4.96% this year, with a gain of 3.67% in 2021.

“Employment is expected to decline by -6.25% for 2020 and rise 4.78% next year,” Perryman said.

“This decline represents about 9.4 million jobs. It is worse than that now, but some improvement is anticipated as the year progresses.

“It will likely take a little more than two years to return to prior peak job levels assuming no major additional disruptions,” Perryman projected.

That is about half the time that was required in 2008, when the economy was facing major structural issues, he noted.

“Health and safety remain of paramount concern, and progress will depend on the ability to continue to resume activity without infections reaching a level that will necessitate a new wave of restrictions.”

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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