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KSAT Explains: How pandemic has struck San Antonio’s economy and road to recovery

Episode 4 of KSAT Explains continues to examine uneven impact of COVID-19 in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – Everyone has felt the impact of COVID-19. The virus has ravaged economies, filled up hospital beds and created a new normal. The pandemic has also forced a conversation about existing inequalities in San Antonio.

Many experts we spoke with for this episode of KSAT Explains said a primary issue in San Antonio is our city’s workforce.

Some of the industries hit hardest by this pandemic are the ones that define the makeup of San Antonio.

PART I: How COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted longstanding inequities and socioeconomic issues in San Antonio

The restaurant and hospitality industries have fallen victim to a virus that is currently best fought with physical distance.

The drop in tourism alone has dealt a major blow to San Antonio’s normally thriving tourism sector.

According to statistics from May 2019 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Dept., the industries that employed the most San Antonio residents included food services, office jobs and sales. Many of those jobs were lost.

(KSAT Explains Graphic.)
(KSAT Explains Graphic.)

San Antonio has had a problem attracting jobs that require higher levels of education or skill. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas identified a continued shortage of skilled workers as a barrier for growth in high-paying sectors.

There is also a lack of higher education among people who live here. Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education an individual has completed.

The lack of education prevents many people from learning the skills they need to get the jobs to make a living wage. That also leaves them struggling more than most in any crisis.

“This was critical before the crisis hit because 65 percent of jobs require something beyond a high school degree. So in this moment of us focusing on workforce development, us seeing that the service industry is rising at the top in terms of unemployment claims,” said Kiran Kaur Bains, SA2020 Dir. of Community Impact.

RELATED: Infectious disease expert: Weather and COVID-19

HELPING THE HOMELESS DURING COVID-19

The coronavirus has only added weight to the already heavy burden for San Antonio residents who are homeless.

We spoke with a local resident who has been living in a storage unit she rents. She is also seeking help from organizations like SAMMinistries.

COVID IN CONGREGATE SETTINGS

There’s been coronavirus outbreaks at local nursing homes and jail facilities. Here is a timeline of those outbreaks and how officials have responded to these hot spots.

SOLUTIONS AND PATH FORWARD

Our city has learned some hard lessons during the pandemic, but the hope for progress and change remains.

We interviewed Mayor Ron Nirenberg about several issues in the context of our pandemic. Nirenberg said he believes the city has taken the first steps in the right direction to both recover from this health crisis and address longstanding issues.


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