Economy roaring after pandemic eases

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RANSON, W.Va. (WDVM) — Now that vaccines are kicking in, the economy is taking off.

The masks are off, and the economy in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle is roaring. It seems as if sales of just about everything are up. Economists call it pent-up demand.

“I’ve got all the work I can handle right now and it’s good,” said Mike Potter, a laborer. “It’s good, especially after being locked up all winter and being half paranoid every time you do go out. And you’re around people. So you know it’s a relief to be getting back into the swing of things.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that consumers are returning to physical stores in droves, being more social, buying travel gear and beauty products.

Tony Lowe is a small business owner in the eastern panhandle and said, “It’s pretty busy. People seem to be out. They’re spending. Prices are through the roof though and that’s a negative.”

Yes, there is a flip side to this consumer surge for apparel, handbags, luggage. At Macy’s, which has a major distribution center in Martinsburg, product demand for menswear and wedding and prom attire is skyrocketing. Along with prices creeping up, employers are desperate to find workers, offering sign-on bonuses to clock in; but according to Mike Potter, what’s the rush?

“Yes I know a lot of people with the stimulus checks and a lot of time to themselves at home not going out to bars and restaurants and all that,” Potter said. “They have been saving a lot of money and so now they’ve got a little bit of ‘flip cash’ they can start throwing around.”

McDonald’s is raising pay 10 percent for tens of thousands of its workers, and at least one major bank is inching toward a $25 an hour minimum wage by 2025. Here at this Home Depot in Ranson, sales are up a full third over last year.

Another growing pain of our economy in transition: ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft face a supply shortage as newly vaccinated customers flood the apps only to find there aren’t enough drivers out there to serve them.

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