Road to economic recovery likely a long one after pandemic, says local economist

One of the biggest parts of the recovery, he says, will be help from the federal government.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Though Governor Raimondo is talking about her plans to reopen the state’s economy hopefully by
next week, a local economist warns it won’t just be a flip of the switch to get people back on their feet.

With roughly 150,000 Rhode Islanders out of work because of the pandemic, and small businesses shutting down, the road to recovery for Rhode Island will be a long one.

“The best analogy I’ve heard is that what we’re in effectively is like a medically induced coma,” explained URI Professor of Economic Leonard Lardaro. “We literally pulled the rug out for all economic activity.”

So how do we get out of the coma? Lardaro predicts it will take at least one or two years but likely longer. He also thinks unemployment will break 20 percent.

“A big part of the character of this state are the small restaurants, and the small stores and how wonderful the mom and pop places are,” said Lardaro.  “A lot of them are not going to survive. The federal money did not get there in time.”

One of the biggest parts of the recovery, he says, will be help from the federal government. The state has already received more than a billion dollars.

“But in my view that’s really a down payment,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “We’re going to need to do much more.”

According to Cicilline, the next stimulus bill, which is being negotiated right now, will be aimed primarily at cities and towns.

Another key component of recovery depends on testing.

“They’ve been mainly leaving it to the states. We need the administration, the federal government to be more active.”

Even more ominous according to Professor Lardaro; if there’s a spike in cases after the economy re-opens and businesses are forced to shutdown for a second time.

“If this really recurs, we are in serious trouble,” explained Lardaro.

He says the best thing Rhode Islanders can do for public and economic health is to stay home and socially distance.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island, Your Health