NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Economists at Old Dominion University predicts that the Hampton Roads economy has weathered the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Economic Forecast, which was held by economists from ODU’S Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy on January 26, covers areas of strength in the local economy. The economists are predicting real GDP growth in the region of 2.4% in 2022.

The sudden loss of jobs in the first wave of COVID-19 was followed by a quick rebound leaving the region nearly 40,000 jobs short of the pre-pandemic peak.

Economic Forecasting Project Director Vinod Agarwal compares the economies recovery to the Great Recession.

“It took our region a decade to recover everything we lost.” Agarwal said.

Even with the great losses in the past, Agarwal said there were indicators of real strength in the Hampton Roads economy in 2021.

Dragas Center Robert M. McNab led off the Economic Forecast with a look at national and Virginia economies. He says the unprecedented steps the federal government took to support workers who lost jobs due to COVID-19 and provide economic stimulus for the broader economy resulted in unusual behavior.

“Instead of spending less during a recession, people spent more” McNab said.