HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Getting the COVID-19 shot may be our best line of defense against the virus, but it could also be key to getting the economy back on track.
“It’s really about vaccines,” said Bob McNab, economics professor and director of the Dragas Center at ODU.
Economists at ODU are predicting a strong recovery in 2021, but that largely depends on the number of people getting vaccinated against the virus.
“We are forecasting a much improved 2021, conditional upon vaccinations,” McNab said.
ODU's annual economic forecast report, however, outlines signs of recovery from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, but McNab said it all depends on the number of vaccines going into arms.
“If we can vaccinate a good proportion of the national population and if political violence doesn’t rear its head again, we believe the U.S. will grow at around 4% in 2021,” he said.
Here in Hampton Roads, predictions for economic growth are even higher, with military spending providing a boost.
“Hampton Roads should grow even faster because of defense spending at around 4.5%,” McNab said.
According to McNab, more vaccinations will eventually lead to more trade, jobs and vacations.
“That’s the key to revitalizing the travel and tourism industry in Hampton Roads, and that’s part of the key of bringing even more traffic through the port,” he said.
Hotel revenue could see an 18% increase, which is better than last year when revenue for the industry was down 35%.
ODU economists predict it’ll take several months for the state to fully bounce back, as long as the COVID-19 vaccine supply goes up and hesitancy to get the shot goes down.
“It should be: Get the vaccines in, administer as quickly as possible and go to the federal government and keep the pressure on to keep increasing vaccines into the state,” said McNab.
The economic forecast is predicated on the continuation of an accelerated vaccine rollout. ODU economists said annual forecasts are not guaranteed. As 2020 showed, variables such as global pandemics, can drastically throw off predictions.