By Susannah Bryan South Florida Sun Sentinel
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Susannah Bryan reports, more health care workers will be needed to serve the elderly population. Instead of going to an assisted-living facility, more people may opt to stay home with a live-in care nurse.
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has battered some South Florida businesses to the core. But there is reason for optimism.
Some occupations could see a surge of hiring once the crisis passes, providing opportunities for the tens of thousands of people thrown out of work, economists say.
“Companies will be looking for someone to do certain jobs instead of having people on staff," said Siri Terjesen, a professor at Florida Atlantic University with a focus on entrepreneurship. "Accounting, marketing, strategy development and implementation will take off in a way it didn’t before because it was typically was done in-house.”
White-collar professionals who can work from home will be in demand, said Marc Weinstein, a business professor from Florida International University.
Here are places where opportunity may lie.
Health care More health care workers, particularly home health aides and telemedicine, will be needed to serve South Florida’s large elderly population.
“Instead of going to an assisted-living facility, that care might be in their own home," Terjesen said. "They might have a live-in care nurse.”
Higher demand also is likely for physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors, as well as contact tracers and travel nurses who can head to COVID-19 hot spots.
“We’ll see more telemedicine where possible," Weinstein said. "Jobs that require physical contact like dentistry or physical therapy will still exist, but they might change. You may see more protective equipment.”
Social entrepreneurship Some jobs will be lost forever, forcing workers to reinvent themselves in a turbulent marketplace, said Esteban Petruzzello, a business professor at the University of Miami.
Terjesen expects the coronavirus to usher in sweeping changes, including more social entrepreneurs -- people who create businesses to address social problems or needs the governments and existing firms don’t meet.
South Florida has always spawned an abundance of entrepreneurs. Now app developers and marketers, some working from home, will be in demand to develop strategies for services.
“It’s not an easy transition for people to switch from destroyed jobs to hot jobs,” Petruzzello said. “But everything related to shipping and delivery is seeing a significant boom. Grocery stores are picking up. Exercise equipment is seeing an uptick because gyms are closed. And that might continue because some gyms might not reopen.”
As people try to climb out from pandemic chaos, they’ll be looking for consulting and professional services. Accountants, lawyers and financial planners will face pent-up demand.
Personal service People now accustomed to staying safe at home might not want to venture out, particularly when services can come to them. This could be especially true in hard-hit areas like South Florida.
Personal trainers, nail techs, hair stylists and makeup artists might make home visits.
“I’m seeing personal trainers come to people’s homes and people ordering healthy made-to-order meals,” Terjesen said. “I think the patterns of consumption of health care are going to change. People will come back to gyms, but maybe you’ll be operating at 50% capacity.”
Online services will be just as important, with nutritionists sharing what they know and teachers offering guidance to both young children and teens.
“Nutritionists might do it on Zoom or on the telephone instead of meeting one-on-one,” Terjesen said.
Tourism For the short term, the hotel industry has been among the hardest hit, losing 7.7 million jobs, or nearly half of its workforce, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
The leisure and hospitality industry in South Florida has lost 52,700 jobs, or 39% of its work force, in the past year, the latest unemployment statistics show.
Will those jobs come back?
“Some will, there’s no question,” said Chip Rogers, CEO of the hotel trade group. “We don’t know how many and we don’t know when. Before this, in January 2020, we had 900,000 job openings across the nation for hotels, front desk, housekeeping, security, accounting, assistant managers.”
The pandemic changed all that.
“Some people won’t be able to wait for the jobs to come back,” Rogers said. “The folks who won’t be coming back will move onto other fields.”
In South Florida, hotels are going to be hurting until the cruise ship industry makes a comeback, Rogers said.
But one day, people will board cruise ships and book hotel rooms again -- likely after a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, said Albert Williams, an economics professor at Nova Southeastern University.
“I think the hotel business will rebound once we get a vaccine or treatment,” he said. “Travel depends on income. But I don’t see the hotel business drying up.”
Restaurants and bars will survive too, he said.
“Restaurants will have to have a new world order,” Williams said. “Those who do delivery will have a bigger chance of surviving the virus. Bars will be harder to monitor. After three or four drinks, they won’t be social distancing. But bars will never die. People want to drink. Happy hour has to exist. Everybody has a happy hour.”
Looking further ahead
It will take another three years for the South Florida economy to return to where it was before then pandemic struck, said Kwame Donaldson, senior economist with the rating agency Moody’s Analytics.
“By the end of 2023, we have job recovery coming almost all the way back,” he said. “It’s pretty fast, but it’s still three years from now.”
Real estate should see a full recovery by the end of 2023.
The hospitality and leisure industry will eventually make a comeback.
“We do see those jobs coming back,” Donaldson said. “People will eventually travel again. Disney World will open again. It’s just that it will take longer for them to come back.”
By 2025, South Florida’s economy will be humming along, with employment rates performing above average, Donaldson said.
“Things will really start picking up over the long term,” he said. “Florida is a relatively low-cost state. It’s attractive to baby boomers, who will be retiring en masse. It will help boost South Florida out of the digits it’s going to be in for the next few years. We don’t see a complete recovery until five years from now.”
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