Monday, January 3, 2022
At the Chamber's recent State of the Economy event, keynote speaker Dr. Bill Conerly brought his ability to connect the dots between the economy and business decision to the unique circumstances facing Oklahoma City businesses today. Read on for an excerpt of his thoughts on workforce availability, supply chain issues, and more.
What one economic statistic should business leaders pay attention to in 2022?
Conerly: It’s not really an economic statistic; it’s COVID. I’m not an epidemiologist, but my assumption is that things will be better with respect to COVID—not over, but better. We have more people vaccinated and more natural immunity. We have treatments being approved. I think it will be better, but I would not be surprised to see another spike.
COVID has impacted every aspect of our economy, including consumer behavior. What are we seeing on that front?
It's not unusual for income to go down in a recession, but during the early days of the pandemic, income went up and spending went down. It was the reverse of what we expected, and consumer behavior continues to be impacted by that. A lot of people kept their jobs during the pandemic, and those who didn’t, got unemployment assistance at a very high rate of return. People also received multiple stimulus checks. At the same time, people cut spending because they were worried about their jobs or weren’t able to spend money by eating out or traveling. The extra funds were either saved in bank accounts or used to pay down credit card statements, so consumers are entering 2022 in great shape. As long as people are able to go out and do some traveling, some dining out, some concerts, there will be a lot more spending in 2022 because consumers have the money and the pent-up demand—that’s the most important part.