The nation has made big strides from the height of the pandemic, and as a result of our recovery, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.2% from its high of 14.8% in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.\u00a0 Progress toward economic recovery has been largely possible because of public health improvements and the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, Sept. 7, around 53% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As more Americans are vaccinated and the CDC relaxes restrictions, there is a significant positive effect to a wide range of businesses, in particular in the leisure and hospitality industry, but also many other service-based economic activities, according to Can Erbil, who is an economics professor at Boston College.\u00a0 According to Erbil, there will be direct benefits from the vaccine rollout such as businesses being allowed to operate again at full capacity, but also indirect benefits as consumers feel more confident and safer to start demanding services again, such as getting more frequent haircuts, going to restaurants with friends, attending concerts and sporting events and more. Though the U.S. is making progress as a whole, some states are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic faster than others, per a\u00a0report by WalletHub, a personal finance website, released today. Michigan is the 10th state recovering the quickest from COVID-19, according to the report. Of the statewide report, South Dakota ranked as No. 1 followed by Maine, Iowa, Utah and New Hampshire. The states recovering slowest are Georgia, Hawaii, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Three key dimensions, including 17 metrics, were used to rank the states. Those dimensions were "COVID Health" which included the share of population aged 12 and older fully vaccinated, "Leisure and Travel" which included the average daily restaurant visits per capita and "Economy and Labor Market" which included the real GDP vs pre-COVID levels.\u00a0 Each state was ranked on a 100-point scale, 50 of which went to COVID Health dimension, 20 of which went to Leisure and Travel and 30 of which went to Economy and Labor Market. Data used to create this ranking came from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CDC, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, COVID-19 Electronic Lab Reporting, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Group, OpenTable, Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Nathaniel Hendren, Michael Stepner and the Opportunity Insights Team and the Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report. According to the Economist and NYT, domestic travel, this summer, is expected to boom. The leisure & hospitality sector should be prioritized by local and state governments to help companies in this sector position themselves to take full advantage of this pent-up demand. The U.S. economy is likely to return to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of 2021 in terms of GDP and the first quarter of 2022 in terms of jobs, or employment, according to Ernie Goss, who is an economics professor at Creighton University. Currently restraining growth of the economy, according to Creighton University's two monthly surveys, are three main factors, according to Goss: 1. The leisure and hospitality industry continues to suffer from individuals' and business travelers' reluctance to return to pre-pandemic spending patterns. 2. Businesses' inability to find and hire qualified workers is a major impediment to growth. The Biden administration's $1.9 stimulus plan included a $300 weekly bonus to workers receiving state unemployment benefits. As a result, many workers are receiving more financially to remain unemployed than to accept a job. 3. Supply bottlenecks are preventing companies from receiving timely delivery of inputs to their firms, or for the delivery of their products to their customers.