Boston Globe – After a year of hunkering down, the country is about to bask in the biggest boom in nearly four decades. But the scars of the pandemic linger.
By summer, most American adults should be vaccinated, and life is expected to return to something approaching normal as people eat in restaurants, hop on a plane, or catch a game at Fenway Park. Getting out of the house for work and recreation will swell the economy, juiced by another big federal stimulus program and trillions of dollars in savings that consumers are eager to spend.
Yet that rosy outlook isn’t reflected in the sentiments of many local employers who would benefit greatly from a post-pandemic resurgence. Hammered by COVID-19 shutdowns, they remain wary after earlier forecasts about the trajectory of the disease proved too optimistic.
Instead of the rapid rebound projected by economists, these employers — from small business owners to big institutions such as hospitals and universities — expect a more gradual recovery marked by fits and starts. So, they’re ramping up slowly and delaying hiring decisions until the picture is clearer.
Massachusetts is digging out of an especially big hole. We were among the first states to shutter our economy last March to contain the coronavirus. And now, as other states such as Connecticut and Texas lift most pandemic restrictions, we’re likely to be among the last to reopen. The state ended 2020 with 335,000 fewer jobs than the year before, a 9.1 percent decline that was the fourth-largest in the country.