WCED Blog


COVID-19 and Preparing for the Next New Normal

Written by: Ted Abernathy, Managing Partner, Economic Leadership LLC

 As part of our Economic Development Summit Series, Ted Abernathy recaps his session on the Evolution of Economic Development & the Impact of the Pandemic on the Regional Economy below.

Nostradamus is credited with saying, Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.” 2020 is certain to go down in history as a year of huge challenges and profound change. COVID-19, the resulting recession, domestic and global political discourse and the still emerging social movement(s) are amplifying the changes that were already rewriting our daily realities. Trends such as industry disruption, talent wars, and declining dynamism are likely to be more impactful. Through much of 2020 our economy will struggle to adjust to the pandemic’s impact. GDP growth will stay negative, unemployment will likely remain in double digits, and for some industries full recovery could be many years in the future.

As we move from response to recovery to reinvention the most competitive places will still have an advantage. The Raleigh-Cary metro will remain one of the most competitive places for new talent and new investment. Our educational institutions, state and local governments, and health care providers will face new challenges and our technology sector will seek new opportunities, but our history suggests that we will persevere.

Here are a dozen predictions for the next new normal in 2021.

  1. More workers will continue working from home well into the future.
  2. Real estate usage will require rebalancing.
  3. Labor force participation rates will fall, and we will still have a skilled worker shortage.
  4. Consumers will continue some on-line purchasing habits that they have recently learned, especially the new older shoppers. Weak brick and mortar retail will close in waves.
  5. Household savings rates will remain higher, reducing overall consumption and acting as an overall growth throttle.
  6. Student counts could be down in public schools, higher education, and childcare.
  7. Businesses will deploy robots and automation anywhere they can to moderate future disruptions.
  8. To balance state and local budgets will require significate cuts over the next two to three years.
  9. Global geopolitics will have a greater impact on our daily lives.
  10. A new focus on supply chain resiliency will create economic development opportunity.
  11. We all have a new appreciation for the value of universal high-speed broadband.
  12. People will reevaluate where and how they want to live. 

Finally, many parts of the country, and our community, are beginning to rethink broader social issues of equity and inclusion. What will happen next is unknown, but as we face a rapidly changing, uncertain future, we can collectively craft one with broader opportunity. Stay tuned.   

You can still register for the Economic Development Summit Series 2020 here.

 

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