Twelve months ago, few people would have predicted what awaited the region, the country and the world in 2020. A worldwide pandemic and a dramatic Presidential election campaign introduced significant uncertainty into the economic environment.

Facing another unpredictable year in 2021, economists from Old Dominion University's Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy have a challenging job in producing their annual Economic Forecast.

Economic Forecasting Project Director Vinod Agarwal, an ODU professor of economics, said one of the challenges of creating this year's forecast is that COVID-19 had an impact "across an array" of economic sectors.

"There have been job losses, but they have particularly struck service industry jobs. The hospitality industry was devastated," Agarwal said. "On the other hand, the Department of Defense, which is important to this region, has actually seen increased spending."

This year's forecast will be delivered by Agarwal and Robert M. McNab, professor of economics and director of the Dragas Center, in a virtual event on Wednesday, Jan. 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The annual forecast, for 26 years seen as an impartial, credible harbinger of the economic year to come in the region, and for the nation, was moved to the Old Dominion University campus for the first time in 2020. Because of challenges associated with COVID-19, this year's event, once again presented by Chartway Credit Union, will be delivered in a live, online format.

Registration is available at the Dragas Center Website. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased up until Jan. 26.

This year's forecast will reflect the catastrophic challenges still being posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which turned optimistic forecasts in 2020 into a year of negative economic growth in Hampton Roads and Virginia.

Agarwal, who has produced the first Economic Forecast for Old Dominion University, will deliver regional projections. McNab, who came to Old Dominion in 2016, will deliver the state and national forecasts.

The Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy in the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University undertakes a wide range of economic, demographic, transportation and defense-oriented studies. Since 1999, the Dragas Center has produced influential State of the Region Reports for Hampton Roads.

The Center also conducts forecasts for the U.S., Virginia and Hampton Roads and produces the State of the Commonwealth Report. For more information, including previous State of the Region and Commonwealth Reports, as well as Economic Forecasts, visit the Dragas Center Website.

To receive updates from the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, please text CEAPODU to 66866 to join our email list and follow DragasCenterODU on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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