Commentary: Vaccinations improve outlook for healthiness, employment
Don BrunellSeptember 9th, 2021
It isn’t surprising that COVID-19 was disastrous for our country’s economy. Millions died from COVID complications; offices, stores and factories closed; and people were forced to quarantine at home.
The good news this week after Labor Day is vaccines are working and readily available. As a result, our job market has dramatically improved. People are eating out, shopping, and traveling. Our economy is healing.
Vaccines were developed and deployed at “warp speed” under President Donald Trump. Having Americans inoculated as quickly as possible is one of the few things in which presidents Trump and Joe Biden jointly deserve credit. It is not a political football to be tossed back and forth. Proven vaccines are in everyone’s best interest.
Shots in arms started en masse as Biden took office. His administration rightly accelerated the pace. As a result, our unemployment rate dropped from almost 15% during the pandemic peak in April 2000 to 5.4% in mid-August 2021.
The progress continues. Wallethub.com reported much better job growth in July, exceeding researchers’ expectations. “The overall drop (in unemployment) can be attributed to a combination of vaccinations and states loosening restrictions,” the company concludes.
Now, just over half of all Americans are fully vaccinated and just over 6 in 10 received one shot. However, the vaccination rate needs to accelerate. The overwhelming number of patients with COVID in our overcrowded hospitals are unvaccinated.
The good news is nearly 60% of all Washingtonians are completely immunized and two-thirds received one injection. Lack of vaccines is not an issue. Our state’s population is 7.8 million and 10.5 million shots have been delivered and 9.4 million have been administered.
Vaccinations are reflected in job numbers. Wallethub.com data shows three Washington cities rank among the cities “bouncing back most.” Spokane is rated 16th best followed by Vancouver (27th) and Tacoma (32nd). To keep the economy moving, job vacancies need to be filled.
The number of unfilled jobs in the U.S. soared to nearly 15 million by mid-March. April data from online job site ZipRecruiter found discouraged, hesitant, and fearful job seekers translate into many positions remaining vacant. Vaccinations go a long way to alleviating fear.
In May, the Labor Department job numbers were disappointing. The total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in April which was far below the 1 million expected by economists polled by Dow Jones.
With millions of employers looking for workers, the emphasis is shifting to encourage people to seek work.
Lawmakers must find ways to generate revenue without further damaging our economy. In 2020, the federal government took in $3.42 trillion, but spent $6.5 trillion. Our national debt has soared by $28.5 trillion, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Vaccinations are key to putting people safely back to work. Working people sustain our economy and those workers and businesses pay the taxes needed to fund our government.
Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer, and retired president of the Association of Washington Business. He now lives in Vancouver and can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.
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