Experts discuss Delta variant’s potential impact on Alabama’s economic growth

Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama’s economy has been on the rise since the COVID vaccine became widely available.

Ty West with the American City Business Journals said the Delta Variant is not impacting economic growth much right now, but if cases continue to go up, he said it could cause vaccine mandates from employers.

“I do think companies are closely watching what is happening with the Delta variant,” West said.

West said a recent Birmingham Business Journal survey shows that 91% of people in Birmingham are ready for in person and live events and he doesn’t think the Delta variant will change that much.

“Regardless of what happens with the Delta variant, unless it starts having a terrible impact on people who are vaccinated, I think a lot of those people are going to be comfortable going out and about,” West said.

West said the variant cases are already sparking action from employers.

“We are seeing already more movement towards those vaccine mandates,” he said. “We are already hearing from more employment law attorneys that they are seeing a lot of their clients that are like ‘alright we want to take this step to actually mandate the vaccine’.”

West said if cases continue to mirror what we saw in 2020, the variant could also have impacts on industries.

“The events business is an area that is probably going to be watching this more closely than others because that is an industry that is still kind of getting it’s legs back,” he said.

He said the variant could also impact the travel industry, but he thinks restaurants will be able to sustain another surge in cases.

“I think restaurants, most of the ones that are still around now, have learned to operate in a curbside and delivery focused model that is not quite as dependent on dine in as they used to be,” West said.

West said many of those employers are looking to start requiring vaccination because of the variant, but he said some can’t afford to do it right now. West said employers worry it could cause more employees to quit and businesses are already suffering because of the labor shortage.

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