The Manufacturer & Business Association is teaming up with Penn State Behrend to assess the pandemic's impact on our economy.

Economic professor Ken Louie, Ph.D., presented his findings Thursday during the MBA’s annual impact luncheon.

According to Louie, in 2020, Erie lost a total of 26,000 jobs, which is about 23 percent of the positions that existed prior to the pandemic.

Some of the sectors hit the hardest, include hospitality, retail and manufacturing.

As we head into 2022, some of the other major challenges many businesses are dealing with include inflation, supply chain shortages, and lack of workers.

"The thing that we're hearing most is finding quality employees,” said Manufacturer & Business Association CEO John Krahe. “Business is going very well, it's a matter of having enough folks there to be able to produce what it is needed to produce and then also getting the materials to produce what we need to produce.”

Despite those challenges, Louie says Erie's economy is stabilizing. However, the county still lags behind both the state and nation.

"The $64 million question is how much longer will it take?” said Louie. “The one thing to keep in mind, is that the U.S. economy, despite the recent challenges that we face, is still very, very resilient, and is very, very adaptive."

Meanwhile, Erie's unemployment rate is currently 6.2 percent, which is above the national average of 4.2 percent.

This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.