2021 E-Insights Report

Section 2: Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives, pushed healthcare systems to (or in some cases
beyond) capacity and caused a global economic slowdown. As of Dec. 7, there have been 14.9
million COVID-19 cases and more than 285,000 deaths in the United States. Prior to the pandemic, the American economy was thriving and unemployment rates were at a 50-year low. Now, however, unemployment rates have risen to the highest levels since World War II, rising to almost 15 percent in the month of April, 2020. Although unemployment rates are falling. They are still above the rates seen in January and February 2020. The U.S. economy is primarily driven by consumer spending; people are spending less during the pandemic which, in turn, has an effect on business revenue -- and therefore the economy.

The labor market, too, will forever be different with companies adding more technology to help
employees work remotely. Some companies will continue this practice post-pandemic thereby
reducing demand for commercial real estate. It also gives the people a reason to move away from cities since they can work from home.

In this section, researchers analyze the impact and recovery of COVID-19 on the Tampa Bay MSA using various indicators. The indicators selected are 1) COVID-19 incidence rates, 2) unemployment rate change in 2020, 3) the impact on small business revenue,* 4) the impact on consumer spending, 5) the impact on urban-suburban relative rental demand, 6) food insecurity rates and 7) the key insights gathered from the overall analysis.

Data source logos

The data sources for this analysis are from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Feeding America, Zillow research, Womply and Affinity Solutions (economic tracker, tracktherecovery.org). The data sources were provided at either the MSA level, county level or the ZIP code level. When the data was available at MSA level, researchers used the data directly. However, for Raleigh-Durham MSA, which consists of two MSAs (Raleigh MSA and Durham-Chapel Hill MSA)
and the Tampa Bay region which consists of four MSAs (Tampa-St. Petersburg- Clearwater, Homosassa Springs, Lakeland-Winter Haven and North Port- Sarasota-Bradenton), researchers aggregated the data from MSA level to regional level by taking a weighted average using population as the weight. When the data was available at the county level, scholars aggregated the data based on the counties present in each MSA and added raw numbers (if available) and took weighted averages with population or per capita income depending on the variable being analyzed.

Researchers present the data in two charts, one which compares the Tampa Bay MSA with the overall MSAs in the analysis and another which compares the Tampa Bay MSA with other Florida MSAs. With one exception, each chart compares either the daily percentage change since January or the monthly percentage change since January. The exception is the food insecurity chart, which includes data from 2010. Researchers chose to calculate percentage changes instead of comparing the raw numbers because each MSA was impacted by COVID-19 at different points in time of the year -- and each MSA handled the pandemic differently. Further, given that researchers had less than a year’s worth of data at the time of writing the report, it made more sense to compare each MSA with how it performed compared to itself before the pandemic. All the charts for all MSAs start at 0. Researchers compared by which the MSA declined or improved in comparison to its value in January.

In addition to the above-described signals, the researchers also analyzed signals from real-time
data sources, such as Google Trends, and the data on professional job openings from online job
portals, such as LinkedIn and Indeed. The researchers use Google Trends to analyze the consumer spending behavior to derive the understanding on the impact of COVID-19 on the commercial activity of a region. Google Trends provides rich insights on the impact of COVID-19 on not only the economy of the region but also on the family life of individuals within a region. Online job portals such as Indeed and professional networking websites such as LinkedIn provide data on professional job openings on daily basis. Scholars used this data to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the job openings of professional jobs in the MSAs of the study.

Finally, scholars present the key takeaways from the analysis for each indicator after the graphical charts.

*Note – Small Business Revenue data was available only at the city level of the MSA, and no data was available for Orlando.