By Tyler Arnold
The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Virginia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has remained below average when compared to other states, but its health recovery has been slightly above average.
According to a new report from the financial website WalletHub released Wednesday, the commonwealth’s overall recovery was ranked 22.
The commonwealth’s health recovery from the pandemic was above average, finishing 23 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its leisure and travel recovery finished slightly below average at 28 and its economic and labor market recovery finished even lower than that at 33.
“Virginia ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of COVID-19 recovery,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub, told The Center Square. “The state still has a large share of COVID-related doctor visits at over 5%. Plus, the total weekly job postings has dropped by almost 2.5% compared to pre-COVID levels.”
“On the positive side, the number of seated diners at restaurants has increased by almost 40% compared to pre-COVID levels,” Gonzalez said. “Looking at the state’s economy, we found there was a decrease in the real GDP by just 2.5% in 2020 compared to 2019, which placed Virginia among the top ten states.”
The health category accounted for half of the state’s score and considered criteria that included the state’s vaccination rate, its hospitalization rate, its death rate, and hospital supply shortages. The economy and labor market category accounted for 30% of the total score and considered GDP changes, consumer spending, unemployment, workplace mobility, and weekly job postings. The leisure and travel category accounted for 20% of the total score and considered changes in restaurant visits, seated diners at restaurants and retail, recreation, and parks mobility.
Virginia’s unemployment rate began to plummet after Gov. Ralph Northam ended most of its pandemic-related restrictions on the economy; however, in recent months the numbers have mostly stagnated. Although many places are hiring, some industries, such as restaurants and hotels, have reported difficulty in filling positions. Business community leaders cited pandemic unemployment benefits, which provided $300 additional every week, as a contributing factor, but these benefits ended last weekend. Some are still worried that they will have trouble finding qualified workers for the positions.
In a special session that took place in August, lawmakers allocated $353 million in federal relief funding to small businesses. This included $250 million to the Rebuild VA grant program, $50 million for travel and hospitality, and $53 million for the Industrial Revitalization Fund and Virginia Main Street Program.