The coronavirus pandemic has left a crater in the U.S. economy and the real, human consequences are just becoming clear. From food lines to oil fields to airports, reporter Paul Flahive takes stock of the economic damage and the bold new ideas that are emerging in this series from Texas Public Radio.
The Vaccine Is Supposed To Rescue The Economy. Will Americans Take It?
In this episode of The Shakeout, we look toward the rollout of a long-awaited vaccine and the prospect of returning to normal.
The US-Mexico Border Has Been Closed Since March. Businesses Are Feeling The Consequence.
Along the Mexico border, like everywhere, businesses have seen a drop in foot traffic during the pandemic. Unlike other parts of the country, the loss of customers is partly due to an action by the Federal Government: The closure of the border to nonessential travel. On this episode of The Shakeout, we weigh the economic effects this policy has had for cities on both sides of the border.
Oil Is In Trouble. So Is Texas.
The oil industry is in the midst of one of the worst busts on record. The price of oil is a third less than it was in January, and for every dollar the price drops, Texas stands to lose $85 million a year in economic impact. We travel to Midland and Odessa to talk to people who work in and around the oil fields about how they are weathering the collapse in the market.
How Long Can The Texas Travel Economy Survive Without Travelers?
There's a short list of things health experts have implored everyone to do: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay home. On this episode of The Shakeout, we explore the ramifications of that last point. Every industry that caters to travelers is facing a huge, growing shortfall, particularly in Texas, home to two major airlines and a sprawling tourism sector. With outbreaks of the virus still rippling across the United States and the rest of the world, the public remains justifiably wary of getting on a crowded plane or checking into a hotel. That wariness translates to a deep uncertainty among workers whose jobs in those industries are on the line, while those who already lost their jobs are trying to figure out what happens next.
In the Face of a Pandemic, Universal Basic Income Is Having a Moment
The sheer scale of the other economic damage of the pandemic has led some to call for equally large-scale reforms. For instance, Universal Basic Income. Paul calls in San Antonio Express News financial columnist Michael Taylor to break down the pros and cons of Universal Basic Income. Small-scale studies show that providing cash directly to people impacted by disasters is efficient and effective. But critics of Alaska's long-running Permanent Fund Dividend, America's largest experiment in UBI, will attest to the unforeseen political challenge of balancing a state's budget around an annual cash giveaway. The permanent fund is the closest thing to UBI America has tried, and its been going on for nearly 40 years.
Modern Day Breadlines, Once 'Surreal', Become Commonplace
In the first episode of the Shakeout, a podcast about the economic fallout of the pandemic, Paul Flahive tells the stories of Texans waiting in line at food bank events throughout the summer in San Antonio, where more than 10,000 cars lined up for a single food drive in April. One woman brings the food back to her apartment parking lot to share with her neighbors. A hairstylist worries about feeding family members who moved in with her. A young father turns to the food bank to feed his sons after the pandemic forced him to quit his job.
Excellent in-depth coverage of our current situation. Highly recommended!