Reopening Wisconsin: Current Economic & Health Indexes

Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, UW-Madison

Executive Summary:

  • In our report, “Reopening Wisconsin” we provide both economic and health metrics to consider when moving toward relaxing social distancing guidelines. This brief updates the current economic and health indexes.
  • We estimate that the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin is costing roughly $1.5 billion per week in lost economic activity. We estimate a 26.6% decline in output and a 16.2 percentage point increase in unemployment statewide through May 5, 2020.
  • On average the counties which were in the worst economic condition prior to the pandemic have had the largest declines in economic activity.
  • Menominee County, the poorest county in the state, has seen 27% of its labor force file for unemployment benefits since March 15. Through May 6, there has been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Menominee County.
  • We also analyze health factors at a regional level. At least two of the state’s Health Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) regions still face high health risks.
  • At least three HERC regions have had very low rates of infections and positive tests for COVID-19, and may be close to satisfying the current health guidelines.
  • We suggest that as policymakers consider reopening the economy, they move toward a phased-in regional relaxation of social distancing guidelines.

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