The recovery from the pandemic-driven economic contraction has created two distinct groups: workers, companies and regions that are showing signs of coming out unscathed—or even stronger—and those that are struggling.

1. The economic recovery is K-shaped.

Economists had predicted a V-shaped recovery—a rapid rebound from a steep fall—or a U-shaped path—a prolonged downturn before regaining ground. The actual recovery has been more like a K. On the upper arm of the K are well-educated and well-off people, those who can work from home, businesses tied to the digital economy or supplying domestic necessities, and regions such as tech-forward Western cities. On the lower arm are workers with lower wages and fewer credentials, old-line businesses and regions tied to tourism and public gatherings.

2. Those on the lower arm could be affected for years.

More jobs have been lost—nearly 11 million—than were cut in the wake of the 2007-09

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