ODU economists predict better business and finances in 2021


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After a year that saw record unemployment and many small businesses shuttered, Old Dominion University economists believe there is hope on the horizon.

“We project the U.S. will grow around 4% annually in 2021, and Hampton Roads may actually grow faster than the United States and reach 4.5% growth if all goes well,” said Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at ODU.

The center released its 2021 Economic Forecast Monday afternoon.

Recovering the economy all depends, McNab said, on the COVID-19 cloud that still hangs over us.

More vaccinations will lead to more vacations, he said. If the vaccine supply goes up and hesitancy to get shots goes down, ODU economists predict an 18% increase in hotel revenue.

That is good, but not great, according to Professor Vinod Agarwal.

Agarwal said that revenue was down 35% last year at Hampton Roads area hotels. He predicts it will take several years for corporate travel to come back and the industry to fully rebound.

Defense spending for the military will provide an economic boost in our region, according to the report.

It also indicates we should see more container traffic at the Port of Virginia as new global forecasts predict economic growth worldwide and more trade.

“What does that mean for Hampton Roads? That means more business and that’s always a good thing because that means more jobs,” McNab told WAVY.

So exactly when in 2021 will we see all these changes?

Again, according to McNab’s prediction, if you want more money in your wallet, you have to roll up your sleeve.

“Those shots in the arms are part of the economic strategy that really is going to be the engine for economic growth in 2021,” McNab said.

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