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Recovery: West Virginia’s economy will need reforms, initiatives

It is difficult to resist the temptation presented by the New Year to breathe a sigh of relief and proclaim the events of 2020 nothing but a bad memory. This year is going to be different — better. We all want to believe that, even as we know deep down it’s not quite true.

World Bank Officials are trying to be measured in their predictions for 2021as they warn both that our global economic recovery is likely to be more subdued than we would hope, and that the near-term outlook is uncertain. A new surge in coronavirus infections and delays in rolling out the vaccine could shut down even a subdued recovery before it truly gets off the ground.

According to its Global Economic Outlook, the World Bank says global economic output declined by 4.3 percent in 2020, the biggest contraction since 1945. Instead of painting a rosy picture, World Bank officials say “If history is any guide, the global economy is heading for a decade of growth disappointments unless policy makers put in place comprehensive reforms.”

Here in the U.S., the World Bank says the economy declined by a mere 3.6 percent, and should rebound by approximately 3.5 percent this year, if conditions remain right. However, “People at the bottom of the income scale were hardest hit by the shutdowns and recession and will most likely be the slowest to regain jobs and get vaccinations,” said David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group.

Were it not for Mississippi, West Virginia would consistently rank last in the nation in terms of median household income.

Lawmakers in Charleston and the Mountain State’s representatives in Washington, D.C., had better take heed of the World Bank’s warnings, then. Even if it comes, the rebound will not be as fast or dramatic in West Virginia as in other parts of the country. Proper planning, as well as brain storming initiatives and reforms now might make a difference. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

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