Like the rest of the world, St. Louis spent most of 2020 trying to climb out of a deep economic hole.
Vaccine approvals bring hope of a rejuvenated, post-pandemic economy soon, but the recovery is unlikely to be complete in 2021. The hole is too deep.
Metro St. Louis lost 164,000 jobs in March and April as restaurants and other nonessential businesses were forced to close. More than half those jobs had returned by November, but the area remains 68,200 below its pre-pandemic employment level.
James Kelly, a senior economist at IHS Markit, thinks it will be 2024 before all those jobs return. “It’s a slow slog the rest of the way up,” he said.
His firm’s forecast has the nation achieving a full jobs recovery slightly sooner, in mid-2023. Travel-dependent cities like Las Vegas and Orlando were hit much harder than St. Louis by job losses this year, but they’re likely to bounce back faster.
Kelly predicts sluggish growth for St. Louis in the first half of 2021, and says employment could even fall if there’s an uptick in coronavirus infections.