Business

NC still sorting out how to manage through COVID-19

June 8. By Dave Yochum. As businesses assess their ability to operate with social distancing, one of the biggest challenges will be figuring out how people will spend their money. More people have become comfortable with online shopping; the trend could create shortfalls in local sales and even hospitality taxes.

Kendra Stewart College of Charleston

“Rethinking how services that rely on human contact can be done and assuring people they are safe is going to be a major challenge,” says Kendra B. Stewart Ph.D., a political science professor at the College of Charleston.

She said bringing employees back to work who will not have necessary childcare or eldercare also poses new problems that have not been addressed in most workplaces.

On the flip side is the damage to the economy as bars and gyms, for example, remain closed in North Carolina.

Some 1.4 million people have filed claims statewide, more than 110,000 people have filed in Mecklenburg County.

May jobless numbers: Overly optimistic?

Meanwhile, the official US unemployment rate of 13.3 percent in May could be quite optimistic, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a non-partisan think tank. It counts nearly 5 million people who were “not at work for other reasons” as employed and does not account for 6.3 million people who have left the labor force since February.

Adjusting for these factors the “realistic unemployment rate” was 17.1 percent in May, down from the April value but still higher than any other unemployment rate in over 70 years, according to the Peterson Institute.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill that would allow indoor gyms to reopen before North Carolina enters its final phase of reopening. The Senate Commerce committee has unanimously approved House Bill 594, a proposal to set aside Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order and allow gyms, fitness centers and yoga and dance studios to reopen.

People must feel safe

Opening is one thing, getting people to come is another.

“Just creating an atmosphere where people feel safe and comfortable to go to work will take strong leadership from both our public officials and business leaders,” says Stewart, who is the director of the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston.

She said local authorities should be in regular contact with their citizens to learn what they want, need—and fear.

“This will allow for the development of plans that address these concerns and can be openly shared with the public. As we get ready to restart our economies it is important that all citizens feel safe and heard,” Stewart says.

NC is 11th hardest hit

North Carolina isn’t doing awesomely well in terms of the state’s overall coping mechanisms for the pandemic.

It is the 11th hardest-hit state nationwide in how it is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Thirty-nine other states, including the District of Columbia, are less exposed to the economic ravages of COVID-19, according to a new WalletHub survey that looked at unique metrics like share of employment from small businesses, share of workers with access to paid sick leave and the increase in unemployment insurance claims, as well as share of highly affected industries resources for businesses.

A total of 14 different metrics were applied to all the states, plus Washington, DC.

C. Tyler Mulligan UNC Chapel Hill

Many small businesses that were operating successfully before the pandemic are now struggling to survive.

“As their bills pile up but no revenue comes in, closed businesses will eventually run out of cash and be forced to shutter permanently,” said C. Tyler Mulligan, a professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Business shutdowns on a vast scale would likely inhibit a recovery for years after the current crisis subsides.

State Economies Most Exposed to Coronavirus Source: WalletHub

Overall Rank State Total Score ‘Highly Affected Industries & Workforce’ Rank ‘Resources for Businesses to Cope Better with the Crisis’ Rank
3 Mississippi 52.04 25 1
4 Kentucky 51.86 20 2
9 Illinois 48.94 24 3
2 Louisiana 54.86 5 4
44 Arkansas 37.01 51 5
26 Alabama 42.30 46 6
30 Kansas 41.42 45 7
14 New Jersey 46.89 28 8
24 Wisconsin 43.32 38 9
28 Indiana 41.92 41 10
38 West Virginia 40.47 47 11
19 South Carolina 44.25 35 12
22 Michigan 43.47 36 13
34 Ohio 40.99 40 14
29 Delaware 41.74 39 15
36 Tennessee 40.56 42 16
18 Pennsylvania 44.75 30 17
13 Rhode Island 47.42 19 18
42 Iowa 38.72 44 19
11 North Carolina 48.30 13 20
10 Maryland 48.52 10 21
12 Nevada 47.69 15 22
5 New York 51.66 4 23
15 Oklahoma 46.49 17 24
8 Virginia 49.85 6 25
49 Missouri 34.89 49 26
21 Texas 44.07 22 27
50 Nebraska 34.34 50 28
1 Florida 61.16 1 29
20 Montana 44.15 18 30
39 South Dakota 40.09 34 31
32 Arizona 41.13 31 32
27 Massachusetts 42.18 23 33
7 Georgia 50.50 3 34
31 Minnesota 41.36 26 35
37 Maine 40.52 32 36
6 District of Columbia 51.34 2 37
16 New Mexico 45.04 8 38
47 Idaho 35.39 43 39
17 New Hampshire 45.01 7 40
33 Connecticut 41.09 21 41
40 Vermont 39.43 29 42
23 Hawaii 43.39 12 43
25 Colorado 42.96 9 44
45 Utah 36.89 33 45
51 North Dakota 31.62 48 46
48 Wyoming 35.24 37 47
35 California 40.78 11 48
41 Washington 38.90 16 49
46 Alaska 35.95 27 50
43 Oregon 38.68 14 51

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