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Economic recovery on the horizon as COVID wanes

Economically speaking, El Dorado hung tough throughout 2021 as the city continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID) pandemic.

Officials with the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce acknowledged ebbs and flows in the city’s economy last year, saying that the latter outweighed the former and the outlook for 2022 looks even brighter.

A nationwide labor shortage that was sparked by COVID-19 and the oft-reported Great Resignation over the past two years did not bypass local businesses in El Dorado.

Many elected officials, economists, business/industry owners, chambers of commerce and hiring managers across the country primarily attributed the labor shortage to relief benefits that were granted to millions of Americans as part of federal unemployment assistance packages.

American workers provided myriad of reasons for not returning to the job — fear of/high-risk for catching the virus, inadequate and unaffordable child-care options, low wages, lack of health care and other benefits and a general shift in attitudes toward the values that people look for in a job.

By mid-year 2021, states began opting out of the federal unemployment benefits program and Arkansas was among the first to do so.

Since the opt out, the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce has seen unemployment numbers dropping from 7.5% last June to 3.9% in December.

The chamber reported that as of January this year, 481 members are operating at full service and 36 members are still using modified services — representing a total of 517 businesses, an increase of 23 businesses from pre-COVID times. The labor shortage is still affecting 36 businesses who are unable to operate at full capacity.

Read the full article from El Dorado News here.

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