And then there’s the pandemic itself.

Tempered optimism for rebound

With more than a quarter of all Erie County residents fully vaccinated and more than 2 of ever 5 having at least one shot, economists expect a surge of travel and dining out during the rest of spring and into the summer. That, and the impact of the massive federal stimulus program, should give a healthy jolt to the economy, said Fred Floss, a SUNY Buffalo State economist.

“It’s very likely that it will not only pull us out of the Covid recession, but also put us on a growth path from the original recession,” Floss said.

But Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly across the Buffalo Niagara region, and that could rattle consumers who are aching to travel and get out.

“It’s tempering some of that optimism,” said Julie Anna Golebiewski, a Canisius College economist. “The pandemic caused the recession, so it’s only logical to assume that the recovery is depending on the pandemic coming under control.”

Economy faces daunting challenge

While some of the hoped-for job gains could come quickly, the hole dug by the Covid-19 recession is so deep that it likely will take a long time to overcome the lingering impact of the swift and sudden downturn last spring.