The good news: Ohio’s health care system was not overwhelmed by COVID-19 and southeastern Ohio did not suffer as badly as more populated parts of the state. The bad news: the economic recovery from COVID-19 is going to take a lot longer than the precipitous drop it wrought.
In the spring, the U.S. economy’s gross domestic product dropped by 32.9%, most severe drop ever recorded. Fortunately, we have been rebounding since then. Ohio’s unemployment has come down from 17% to 8.8%. Counties in southeast Ohio range from 4.1 or 11.9% unemployment with about half above the state average and half below.
Northern Ohio was hit very hard by COVID-19. So compared to some areas, our region is doing better. However, until there is a widely available vaccine, many economic sectors like hospitality, airlines, restaurants, and some sports and entertainment venues are not likely to fully recover. Reflecting uncertainty, consumer spending may be tepid, affecting nearly everyone. Getting back to normal is going to take a while.
The COVID recovery reminds me of bicycling in SE Ohio. Anyone who has biked in our region knows there are going to be some big, ugly hills. When you are at the bottom staring up, the climb looks steep and scary. You may not see the top because of the bend in the road. If you focus on the length and severity of the pain involved in the journey to the top, you can psych yourself out and diminish the chances you get there.
The best strategy is to keep your head down, and focus on the immediate path before you. Stay on the right course and grind on the pedals. Control what you can control right then and there, and don’t worry about the rest. A steady, manageable rhythm will get you to the top before you know it.
When you get to the top, catch your breath, and begin to descend again, you will have accomplished a great feat. And you’ll be mentally and physically stronger for whatever is around the next bend.
In our region, we are blessed with many entrepreneurs and small businesses who are grinding through. Undaunted by economic reports and uncertainties, they are investing and working hard to grow their businesses. The whole region benefits. We thank them all. OhioSE and JobsOhio are pleased to support them.
Keep your head down and grind, Southeast Ohio. We’ll get to the top.