As car companies shut down assembly lines and grocery stores temporarily close, the impact of the Omicron variant has become an all too tangible threat to the U.S. economy. The viral surge has touched industries in every corner of the country; airlines have had to cancel flights due to a shortage of healthy employees, and hospital workers are exposed now more than at any other time during the pandemic. In recent months, Goldman Sachs’ Household Pulse Survey reports that a record number of workers have been calling in sick and quarantining with COVID, resulting in reduced output for businesses around the country. But despite this turbulence, leaders haven’t lost hope and are looking towards a prosperous future when the surge ends.
The effects of worker absenteeism have been far reaching, and many businesses are feeling the pain. Corporations like Walmart and Apple have temporarily closed stores around the country for deep cleaning as their employees continue to test positive at higher than usual rates. Additionally, the transportation sector has been impacted by worker absenteeism, and the Pacific Maritime Association reports logjams on imports due to rising COVID cases among their longshoremen. As a result of these disruptions to the supply chain, businesses of all sizes aren’t just closing their plants and shuttering stores because of a lack of staff. In many instances, they are closing because they do not have the resources and raw materials to stay open.
Despite the current period of economic uncertainty, executives aren’t convinced that the remainder of the fiscal year will be as tumultuous. Many, in fact, had already prepared to weather a diminished workforce due to the waxing and waning of new variants. Companies have had to be realistic and cut their first-quarter predictions, but many do not foresee this brief period of economic turmoil having long-lasting consequences. Economists and executives alike have higher hopes for the second quarter, remaining assured that innovation and resilience will triumph over adversity.