Financial experts optimistic about Central Florida’s future beyond pandemic shutdown

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Economists and financial experts say the shutdown enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Central Florida into the worst recession since the Great Depression, but they remain optimistic about the future.

Experts on Friday shared the latest information available during a meeting with the tourist development in Orange County.

Read: Disney closes some attractions at Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom

Local unemployment went from 3.2% before COVID-19 to 13.2% at the height of the shutdown.

Tourist development tax money in May dropped 95% compared to last May, but University of Central Florida economist Dr. Sean Snaith said he believes we are already out of the recession.

Read: Orange County school officials vote to submit reopening plans to state, if approved students return Aug. 21

Snaith said he sees unemployment as perhaps the slowest to recover, but things are moving in a positive direction.

Spending is up and the theme parks are back open at a limited capacity.

“An important step for the metro’s economy is to get those businesses up and running, get those furloughed employees back to work,” Snaith said.

Read: More travelers passing through OIA as Central Florida reopens

However, Snaith said, if we end up shutting down again like we did in March and April, we could be looking at a depression.

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.