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Economic Perspective

The Economic Outlook for Businesses

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at the economic outlook for business. Mike, it’s time to look ahead to the economy in 2021. 2020 has been a rough year. Many businesses have downsized, and others have actually permanently closed down. Will matters be better in 2021?


“I think there’s no question 2021 will be a better year. Hopefully, the vaccine will be distributed widely, and we’ll get that immunity in our country such that we won’t have to worry about going out. Businesses won’t have to worry about being open and interacting with customers. That will all totally change consumer and business confidence.”

“But we’ve had a loss of many businesses. So there are many of those that will not be coming back so that’s going to hold back economic growth. Typically we grow at a rate between two and three percent a year. Now I think we could see that better in 2021, four to five percent. You got to remember, that’s going to be on a much lower base going into the beginning of the year.”

“So we’re not going to see our economy get back to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. In fact I think that won’t occur until 2022 or maybe even 2023. But I think overall, the business climate will be much, much better, but there’s a lot of wreckage that we’re going to have to put back together.”

Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.