SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between the San Antonio Business Journal and KSAT.
As several San Antonio industries are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the potential trickle-down deflation from some of the city’s critical business sectors that has at least one international business researcher most concerned.
Tourism, health care and energy have a huge impact on San Antonio’s fiscal well-being. And all three are taking a direct hit from the spread of the novel coronavirus and are putting other dependent industries at deep risk, said Hamid Beladi, endowed chair in business at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“San Antonio’s economy was a whole lot stronger than many other economies across the country. When you have an episode like this, it really hurts more in terms of the negative impact,” said Beladi, who is also professor of economics at UTSA.
The Alamo City’s tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic. Hotels are laying off or furloughing workers. Some are closing indefinitely. The hospitality sector is also feeling the pain, while many of its workers and vendors wonder when or where they will get their next check.
San Antonio’s largest industry, health care, has not escaped the pandemic. One of its anchor hospital systems, Methodist Healthcare, has launched a pandemic payment policy and worker redeployment strategy to address a significant drop in overall patient volume as its facilities have shifted their attention and care to the pandemic.
Beladi said the roughly $40 billion industry, which employs nearly 20% of the city’s workforce, has, like other sectors here and across the U.S., also felt the effects of outsourcing and a just-in-time operational strategy adopted by Toyota years ago, scrambling to secure necessary items, including personal protective equipment.