This time of year, companies, consumers, and workers begin to wonder about the economy’s health in the new year. Of course, the business world’s well-being is tied to the actual health of the country amid the flaring variants of COVID-19.

The outlook is, surprisingly, not so bad. Writing for The Inquirer, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, sees reasons to be hopeful — even though Covid continues to threaten our way of life, livelihoods, and health.

Thanks in large part to the massive relief efforts of the federal government, green shoots abound. Unemployment drifted downward to within sight of pre-pandemic levels, Philadelphia’s economy continued a modest recovery, and the stock market posted record highs all year.

To be sure, the pandemic remains central to the economy. Zandi writes that, even after this omicron wave passes, other variants will likely appear. But each wave will be less disruptive as more workers get vaccinated and businesses become adept at managing supply chain bottlenecks and staffing challenges. The menace of inflation will also ease next year and, despite the devastation of the pandemic, “it will take no more than three years” for a full recovery of the economy from the first wave of the virus, Zandi forecasts.

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— Ezequiel Minaya (@zekeminaya, businessweekly@inquirer.com)

Philadelphia businesses are modestly recovering from the pandemic, Pew data show

Philadelphia posted signs of an economic recovery during the July through September period of the year, though the rebound from the pandemic wreckage lagged behind the region and the city’s own pre-COVID employment levels.

Shifting through the latest data released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, our reporter Christian Hetrick found promising nuggets. Fewer businesses were behind on their bills compared with the prior three-month period, and bankruptcy filings have remained low since November 2020.

But as of October, Philadelphia still trails the number of jobs it had during the same month in 2019, by 8%. And in the fall, the city had recovered only 46% of the jobs lost from February to April 2020, according to the Center City District. By contrast, the wider region has regained 71% of its jobs.

Take a look at more about the economy, including how different industries are faring and the impact of remote work.

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Everything must go: A robust stock market has fueled private-company valuations and founders have sought to cash in. There were a number of notable such deals in the region in 2021.

Get in gear: Philadelphia-based Boathouse Sports has outfitted generations of athletes in its outerwear and athletic gear during its decades in business. The company is betting that the best is yet to come.

Here’s to 100 more: Termini Brothers of South Philadelphia celebrated its 100th anniversary. The local institution has been serving up goods, including its traditional holiday cannolis, cookies, and biscottis, for a century.

Here’s to your health: New Jersey and Pennsylvania are posting strong health insurance enrollment increases on their Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Consumers are taking advantage of a second year of increased subsidies.

A printing plant’s second life: International Paper Co., among the world’s largest paper producers, plans to convert a shuttered Chester County printing plant into a factory producing corrugated packaging.