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Tackling the challenges of a pandemic


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COVID-19 has brought the longest period of economic expansion in modern history to an abrupt halt. With the unprecedented pace and magnitude of decline in economic activity, the College of Social Sciences continues to be at the forefront of tracking economic data and providing guidance to Hawai‘i’s leaders through its twin powerhouses: the Department of Economics and UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

  • At UHERO, Executive Director Carl Bonham and research fellows Peter Fuleky and Justin Tyndall have developed the Economics Pulse, a weekly coincident index of economic activity in Hawaiʻi. In addition to data released by government agencies, the index incorporates data from private sources, and captures both the steep drop and sluggish recovery seen across many economic indicators in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. “In such a rapidly changing environment, making good business and public policy decisions require data that is as timely as possible,” said Fuleky.
  • In the Economics Department, Professor Ruben Juarez has been working on a community driven approach to mitigate COVID-19 disparities in Hawaiʻi’s vulnerable populations. Juarez will be directing a data coordination and evaluation center at CSS, thanks to a National Institutes of Health grant that is funding a community-led program called the Pacific Alliance Against COVID-19, which will empower educators and students as community health workers assess risk to the pandemic.
  • Economics Associate Professor Will Olney has been invited by the World Trade Organization to assess trade-related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for Least Developed Countries (LDC). Working with Emily Blanchard at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, Olney will co-author a paper on how COVID-19 has affected certain trade issues involving LDC, such as global supply chains, e-commerce, travel and tourism, and commodity trade.

Retired CSS Economics faculty also remain active. Professor Emeriti Sumner La Croix and James Mak have been busy writing, presenting and discussing strategies to navigate the recession and set the stage for growth and resilience of Hawaiʻi’s economy. “The pandemic has shown us that, while our welfare, economic recovery and future resilience are at great risk, a number of UHERO and Economics members, even our retirees, continue to step up,” said Sang-Hyop Lee, department chair. “I’m so proud that our economists are working hard and showing leadership at this challenging time.”

Additional news stories from the College of Social Sciences.

Tackling the challenges of a pandemic
Tackling the challenges of a pandemic