L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Fear, Faulty Equations and Uneven Public Policy: The Real Drivers of Pandemic Economic Decline

March 5, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 500,000 Americans and recently pulled a deeply uneven U.S. economic recovery into reverse. In January, many states shut down again to get a handle on surging caseloads and critics blamed those states’ governors for job losses. But a review of more than 60 pandemic-related studies for a forthcoming article in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity shows the shutdowns aren’t killing jobs; fear of the virus is.

To help unpack these and other issues, William Spriggs, a professor of economics at Howard University and chief economist of the AFL-CIO, joined the latest installment of the Wilder School’s Alumni Lunch and Learn Series on February 17. Spriggs talked about how fear continues to limit a rebound among service based-industries—a labor market dominated by people of color— and warned of long-term scarring for tourism markets, the impact of faulty modeling, and uneven public policy on the world’s largest economy. Watch the recording.