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Covid 19 and the recession

July 2nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell
spain, valencia, europe

Rezwan (CC0), Pixabay

I’ve written a lot of articles over the last year about labour market information and what it means both for careers guidance and support and for vocational education and training. But its all too easy to get blase about data, especially when each forecast seems to be worse than the last,

So I thought I would write something more personal, about the impact of Covid 18 and the recession on people around me. This is necessarily an impressionistic account. Since the 14 March when Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez declared a state of emergency, I doubt I have ventured more than two kilometers from the flat in Spain where I was at the start on the crisis. How, a sort of new normal is emerging. OK, schools are still closed as are vocational colleges the the universities, most people wear masks, the numbers allowed in bars and restaurants severely restricted and there are still very few flights in and out of the city. But the terraces are open, albeit with social distancing and the traffic appears to be getting back to its usual dreadful density.

But this isn’t a return to the old normal or even a new normal.Every time I goo out I see a new closed shop, bar or restaurant. The UK Centre for Cities has shown how Covid 19 is having a different impact on different cities. Interestingly, many of the cities being hit hardest in terms of employment and industries are those already under pressure from automation and AI. I am not sure what the overall impact will be on Valencia. To an extent it may depend on the future of large companies like Ford which is, I think, the city’s largest employer. But Valencia also has a considerable number of SMEs, mainly involved in manufacturing, in sectors like furniture. And of course Valencia is a major tourist centre, which even though now declared open to most European cities, is not going to really recover this year.

But it may well be that the impact is differentiated on a local as well as city basis. The area near me is a middle class district with most people seemingly able to work from home. Inevitably in teh crisis people have not ventured far for shopping so shops have been dependent on people living nearby. To some extent that has lessened the impact in my district, although small clothes ships have closed, many bars and restaurants are closed or struggling and even the local swimming pool is shuttered with a for sale notice on the facade. But on Tuesday I was in a nearby working class district. Here, where presumably more inhabitants had jobs which could not be undertaken from home, the impact is much starker. It is easier to count the shops that are open than those closed. Here the recession looks grim. I/m waiting to get data which may indicate just what is going on. But impressions may be nearly as useful.

 

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