Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Only have one post since the start of the year on the damage caused by the government imposed shutdown of education, the economy, travel, and health systems. That’s not because the damage is easing up. It’s just because I’ve not taken the time to write about the articles I see every day.

The damage continues. Merely a few of the articles of recent interest:

  • Widespread mental health damage is falling disproportionately on younger people.
  • Lost schooling may have lifetime impact on individuals and the entire economy.
  • Restaurants are particularly hard hit by the repeated close, open, close, open cycles.

2/21/21 – ABC News – Pandemic’s mental health burden heaviest among young adults – Survey by CDC shows adverse impact on mental health of young adults from the pandemic. Shall we say it is depressing news?

Responses from 18 to 24-year-old age group:

  • 63% – portion reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • 25% – increased substance abuse reported
  • 25% – portion saying they are considering suicide, with qualifier of seriously considering

Causal relationship between the lockdown and deteriorating mental health amongst young adults is this is a time in life when one’s contacts, level of activity, and educational growth is expanding rapidly. All of that expansion in the scope of life has been put on hold for the last year with no signs of when it will end.

Impact on minority students and students with low income is disproportionately high.

Several experts cited indicate concern that a dramatic increase in mental health distress at this age could translate into lifelong issues for a small portion of people. In other words, many more people will have life-long mental health issues than would have otherwise occurred.

2/25/21 – Wall Street Journal – The Long-Term Economic Cost of Lost Schooling – Economists are starting to look at the long-term damage from the shutdown. One place they are looking is education.

One research team took a look at 18 states, then concluded that overall kids lost 116 days in learning to read and 215 days of learning math. Time frame is the early part of the pandemic, so I’m guessing that would mean through perhaps the end of the year. Their concern is how will close to an entire generation catch up with the lost learning?

The frightening question the article asks is if kids miss out on fractions now how are they possibly going to be able to understand algebra in a year? Answer: they won’t. The damage will be permanent – for the rest of their lives.

As expected the damage is disproportionate. Poor kids, or rural kids, or minority kids are hit more severely.

The downstream impact is economic performance. Not only will there likely be a 6% to 9% drop in lifetime earnings for a huge portion of kids, that will carry over into reduced production in the economy.

Total economic impact could be a loss of something in the range of $25 trillion up to $30 trillion over the next century. Quarter of a trillion a year. That’s a huge hit to the GDP. Everyone will suffer.

There is a concept that economies don’t completely bounce back after a severe shock. The Great Recession was one such shock. The shutdown’s impact on unemployment and lost education are two more such shocks.

Shock in the employment world is a huge number of people unemployed and many of have been unemployed for a long time. See my separate posts on the number of people in the federal unemployment program, numbering around 5 million or so, meaning they have been out of the job market for over 26 weeks.

Your skills start to drop after having been on the market that long. Those folks may never recover their previous income level or productivity.

The devastation from the government imposed shutdown just keeps growing, day by day, nonstop.

2/12/21 – Wall Street Journal – Close, Reopen, Repeat. Restaurants Don’t Know What Covid-19 Will Dish Out – Reporter interviews owner of a restaurant in Hollywood, California that has cycled through the close/reopen cycle four times in the last year.

Four times.

Each time he has to throw away all the food when they close and then scramble to stock up when they open. Oh yeah, they have to thoroughly scrub down when getting ready to reopen each time.

Owner estimates the cost is $30,000 each time they prepare to reopen.

Most restaurants, and bars, and gyms, and beauty salons have gone through the close and reopen cycle multiple times. Not only is it devastating to the small businesses it shreds customer loyalty. Customers don’t know whether their favorite store will be open or not on any particular day.

Lots of restaurants will fail before the government allows them all to reopen and stay open.


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