The Covid-19 induced recession has had a serious and diverse impact on jobs across Northern Ireland. Turnover has collapse for the businesses worst affected.
Entertainment and holiday activities have virtually disappeared. Hotels and travel businesses have been hit hard.
Service businesses such as the motor trade have experienced a major fall in turnover.
Similarly, the private sector housing market is coping with smaller sales figures.
But the starker and larger changes have been in retailing. High street shopping malls have been seriously challenged.
Shop workers have lost jobs and property-owning commercial businesses are facing impossible financial challenges as rental incomes fall whilst borrowing costs continue.
The differing degrees of changes in turnover, all with serious implications, pose difficult policy questions for government.
Should government stand by as a neutral observer or is there a case for intervention?
During much of the year 2021, the key question is whether the pandemic effects will be reducing and the economy will recover partially on its own momentum.
Until the pandemic is finally in retreat, extra measures to rebuild employment will be difficult.
City centre retail stores have been hit hard by the current recession.
High streets now have levels of vacant shop frontages which are uncomfortably higher than for some years past.
Large retail chains and well known brands have contracted or closed and caught the headlines.
Smaller, usually owner-managed, 'corner shop' outlets have also been squeezed.
Now is a time for some realism about the mixture of temporary job losses and permanent changes in retailing, both in scale and style, being determined by consumers own life-style choices.
The recession has accelerated changes that were already in evidence but on a scale that was not foreseen.
The recession linked to the Covid-19 pandemic has, sometimes because of government regulations, kept customers at home.
Turnover in retailing has fallen, particularly for goods deemed non-essential.
A critical feature is that, whilst high street shopping has been disrupted, turnover has fallen through two sequences.
First, high street shopping has been directly deterred by advice to stay at home.
Second, high street shopping has been diverted into a big increase in online sales.
Parcels delivery services from warehouse centres, usually in England, are enjoying extra business.
The immediate impact of the recession induced by the response to Covid-19 has been severe and has had a greater impact for longer than initially expected.
Unemployment, or periods of furloughed lay-off, has been large.
With unemployment or short-time working now a persistent feature of the labour market for people who had been employed by retail organisations, there are important questions about what happens next.
Will retail businesses soon be seeking to rehire employees or recruit new employees, and to what degree will there be structural changes in this sector, meaning jobs lost 'for good'?
Recovering from the current recession will be slow, sometimes very slow, and will be uneven with respect to different sectors.
Perhaps the largest proportionate change will be the near permanent fall in high street turnover as consumer preferences shift from goods to services (as a feature of rising living standards) and shift to online options to purchase both goods and services.
Two particular features will test government policy. First, how should government, meaning the Department for the Economy, take a realistic approach to a shift from furloughed employees to an acknowledgement that the jobs have gone permanently?
Second, how should government (at a UK level) change the property law which allows creditors voluntary arrangements (CVAs) which shift property liabilities away from tenants partially on to landlords, often themselves pension fund investors?
Moving from furlough arrangements for employees to recognition that jobs 'have gone' will not be a popular move.
That dilemma was unavoidable when the furlough scheme was devised. It has created a more acceptable answer than simply relying on unemployment benefit or universal credit.
With hindsight, furlough has been too easy an option while universal credit was (and is) too tight.
The Chancellor should have this as a budget issue for his imminent statement.
Building routes out of the Covid-19 pandemic is now an urgent task.