US economy expected to improve as people get vaccinated


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M’Niyah Lynn

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine became the third to receive an issued emergency authorization by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

As people continue to get vaccinated, economic experts are confident that the economy will improve this year.

Besides Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, Americans are also able to be vaccinated by companies Pfizer and Moderna. Both President Joe Biden and state government officials have been trying to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Some experts believe that more vaccines produced means the pandemic is closer to being over because they may restore confidence in Americans and therefore increase economic activity, CNBC reported.

Experts have hope that consumers will spend because people have been saving their money, primarily due to business closings. Spending also decreased because people were ordered to stay home, but federal aid increased in the form of relief bills.

The $900 billion stimulus package that was passed by Congress on Dec. 21, 2020 gave Americans relief in the form of $600 stimulus checks and $300 per week unemployment benefits.

This was “better than nothing,” Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial market economist at Oxford Economics, said to The Washington Post. Still, she added that the package was “less stimulative than the prior packages, and the relief measures are short-lived.”

Although federal aid gave short-term relief, vaccines are helping people get back into the workforce and out doing leisure activities, such as going to restaurants and shopping.

For example, the National Retail Federation forecasted in a press release that U.S. retail sales are expected to grow between 6.5% and 8.2% to more than $4.33 trillion in 2021. It expects this will happen if vaccinations are effective.

“When you are not afraid you become a productive citizen that ultimately benefits all areas of our economy,” Maria Martinez, president and CEO of Border Federal Credit Union said, according to CNBC.

Similarly, President and CEO of OAS Federal Credit Union Carlos Calderon said he thought that it’s the responsibility of Americans to get vaccinated so that they can play their part in stimulating the economy. Vaccines are a way to “reclaim the strength of our economy and society,” he said, CNBC mentioned.

Many people also said they would be willing to get vaccinated, so experts feel safe in their predictions and projections.

Pew Research Center data from December shows that 60% of Americans said they would “definitely” or “probably” get vaccinated.

However, the racial and economic disparities in the vaccine rollout pose a threat to economic recovery. Although the governments have been trying to address disparities for Black and Hispanic communities, they are still getting vaccinated at a lower rate.

“In Mississippi, 15% of vaccinations have been received by Black people, while they account for 38% of coronavirus cases and 42% of deaths in the state,” NPR reported.

Black and Hispanic Americans predominantly make up the essential workers sector, so that sector may suffer from workers not getting vaccinated. People from these communities work as farmers, warehouse or factory workers, grocery store workers and other essential roles..

“Some people who work in these settings have more chances to be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 due to several factors, such as close contact with the public or other workers,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Many of these jobs, like house keeper or home health aide positions, make it hard to work from home or offer less paid sick days.

Less vaccines mean workers are vulnerable to catching or spreading the virus. It also means that the Hispanic and Black communities are financially vulnerable, because without vaccination, some will not be able to provide for their families.

More than one-third of frontline workers live in low-income families, according to an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research from April 2020.

Not only have these communities been hit hard by the pandemic, but Asian Americans have too.

“Four-in-ten (41.2 percent) frontline workers are Black, Hispanic, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, or some category other than white,” the CEPR analysis said.

In addition, Asian Americans tend to have preexisting health conditions or are unable to isolate from loved ones or work at home because of their socioeconomic statuses, The Huffington Post mentioned.

Because Asian Americans heavily-populate essential industries like the health care and food supply industries, the racism and xenophobia small businesses have suffered from has led to unemployment and discrimination toward those that are in need of a paycheck.

Despite the specificities in vaccine distribution, the fact that people are generally continuing to get vaccinated is likely to boost the gross domestic product.

The Congressional Budget Office expects GDP to return to how it was prior to the pandemic by mid-year, The Wall Street Journal reported.