Early Results of N.C. A&T Study Show COVID-19 Impact on Region’s Economy

By Jackie Torok / 11/23/2020 College of Business and Economics

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Nov. 23, 2020) – Preliminary results of a study under way by researchers in North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics show the impact COVID-19 is having on the Piedmont Triad economy.

The study examines the effect of the novel coronavirus on job losses, initial and continuing claims for unemployment benefits, as well as the unemployment rate across the Piedmont Triad Region’s 12 counties: Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin.

Researchers have been analyzing data from March through July and plan to include data from August and September as it becomes available, said Cephas Naanwaab, Ph.D., an associate professor of economics and principal investigator (PI) of the study.

The region saw 31,194 people unemployed in February, putting the unemployment rate at 3.7%. As COVID-19 spread throughout the area, forcing businesses to close, the number of unemployed soared to more than 106,000, from April to May, resulting in a 13.3% unemployment rate. In April, the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits reached a high of 91,553, of which 74,475 were COVID-related. This implies most of the jobs were lost because of COVID-19, Naanwaab said.

“Across the region, job losses, the unemployment rate and claims for unemployment benefits – both initial and continuing – are steadily falling from their peaks in May but remain higher than pre-COVID levels,” said Naanwaab. “For example, continuing claims for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19 remains at a high of 48,957 in July compared with 16,063 in March.”

Data analysis for the study also reveals a disproportionate economic impact of COVID-19 by gender, race and type of industry. Initial and continuing claims for unemployment benefits are higher for women and minorities. Industries severely impacted include leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities, education and health services, and manufacturing.

The study is intended to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses, households, and local and municipal governments in the Piedmont Triad. It is also meant to assess the economic impact that novel coronavirus-related disruptions to A&T’s normal operations have had in the region.

Naanwaab is leading the effort with co-PIs Alfredo Romero, Ph.D., an associate professor of economics, and Scott Simkins, associate economics professor and chair of the Department of Economics. Naanwaab and Romero collaborated earlier this year on a study showing A&T’s economic impact on the state is nearly $1.5 billion.

The target completion date for the Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the Piedmont Triad Region study, which is funded by $48,000 in funding from the N.C. Policy Collaboratory, is Dec. 30.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu