A statewide and county-by-county analysis
As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread through human interaction, policymakers are grappling with agonizing decisions about how much (or how little) economic activity to allow.
Recent events and public announcements have made clear that this decision will largely be made at the state level, albeit with federal assistance and advice.
These decisions are made more difficult by a lack of high-quality, real-time data on many of the vital factors that state policymakers should consider on both the public health and economic fronts.
There is some economic data that exists for states – notably the number of unemployment claims, and some industry-specific metrics like reductions in air travel. But the lack of all-encompassing economic measures turns an agonizing decision into an impossible, ill-informed and even more difficult one.
This short brief aims to partially fill the data void by offering estimates for how much economic activity Wisconsin and each of its counties forgoes when the state economy is partially shut down. To be clear, what is presented here is an estimate of lost economic activity, not a calculated accounting. Only a careful post-mortem of the crisis after it has long passed will be able to offer a completely accurate picture.
These estimates are also not meant to be a value judgment. They do not suggest one way or the other, for or against, certain levels of economic restriction. They are, instead, meant as an input to this value judgment. They should be weighed along with many other factors when making any decisions about both economic and public health considerations.