Experts Look at the Economy, Warn Coronavirus Could Impact Our Local Economy Worse Than Other Parts of the Country


JASPER -- "Buckle up."  That advice came Thursday afternoon from experts sharing their economic forecasts at a Rotary event in Jasper.

One risk factor everyone is keeping an eye on is the spread of the coronavirus.  

“We’re disproportionately large in terms of our import and export business,” explains Ryan Brewer, a professor of finance at IU Columbus speaking at a Rotary Club event Thursday afternoon in Jasper.  “So, Indiana’s economy is going to be disproportionately affected if this coronavirus really takes hold on a mass level like the Spanish Flu did."

He continued, "If we get some numbers on infections, and deaths and severe sicknesses that increase and spread around other countries, particularly countries we rely upon as trading partners like Canada, Mexico, Ireland, China, Japan, and I know there’s reports out of Japan and South Korea now, so, it is spreading, the question is, how bad is it going to get.”    

News Director David Shepherd asked the professor about Dubois County’s low unemployment rate each month and what that tells him about our local economy.

"Here in Dubois County, and up in the northeast quarter of Indiana, we rely a lot on very unskilled labor and, when things are good in the country, people are eating a lot of turkey, people are buying a lot of houseboats, and buying a lot of cars.  So, as the economy expands, people who rely upon unskilled labor to make basic things do very well.  The problem will happen if there is a recession.  Because, then, the unemployment rate will spike sharply and it will be to the detriment of this community."           

Thursday's speakers discussed risk factors other than coronavirus including the 2020 Election and Boeing shutting down production of the 737 Max aircraft.