UAH economics professor talks about economic impact of pandemic
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Our current economic downturn is so unprecedented because it is self-inflicted, our government made the decision to close businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Wafa Hakim Orman, the Associate Dean at the College of Business at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, said the coronavirus is changing things at a rate we are not used to.
“A big part of it is that things are moving so fast that our usual measures don’t even work," she said. “Our unemployment statistics are calculated at a monthly level but within two weeks everything changed.”
Across the country, some states are loosening social distancing guidelines and allowing businesses to reopen.
For Alabama, the plan is not yet clear. But, Orman said when there is a plan, there are going to be problems along the way.
First off, once places reopen, it will take time for people to get employed again. A business won’t just rehire everyone that was fired because of the pandemic immediately, it needs to work up to that.
Secondly, she’s worried about how long it could take a lot of people to be comfortable going back to what used to be normal. She compares it to the fear of flying people had following 9/11.
“People were afraid to fly," Orman said. "Because of how horrific that incident was and so that fear kept people from flying and that’s my concern here is that fear is what will drag down the recovery and not let it proceed as fast as it would have otherwise.”
As for Congress’s response to the pandemic, Orman said the PPP program is extremely necessary but worries even this latest round of funding won’t be enough for the struggling businesses across our country.
She also said the stimulus check program is very helpful to people across the country, but depending on where you live the check may not help you very much.
Orman said she thinks another round of stimulus checks might be a good idea. She wants people to consider the return on investment.
“The more we can help people through this, the more we can help them down the line. Because if we have people that are going hungry or are homeless or worse because of not getting helped in time w’ere going to be dealing with those consequences for years together,” Orman said.
Orman said it’s important to watch states that are reopening extra closely now to see how the virus spreads once social distancing guidelines are loosened.
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