In addition to its health impact, COVID-19 is leading to unprecedented economic disruption. On this page we collect pieces by CROWE researchers tracking and analyzing the economic impact of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and around the world.
Survey for Wisconsin residents:
Wisconsin COVID-19 Economic Experience and Perceptions
We would like to invite you to participate in a research survey to help us understand your resilience and economic future post lifting of COVID-19 Safer at Home order in anticipation to returning to work. This study on the economic perceptions and emotional styles is conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wisconsin’s ability to respond to the pandemic of novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) depends on collecting information on your economic experiences, perceptions and your emotional responses during this global pandemic.
Your experiences recorded in this survey will remain anonymous. No personal identifying information is recorded and no individual survey information will be transmitted to any government or health authority. Please visit the survey link for more information.
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COVID-19 Data Briefs
- The Effects of COVID-19 on WI Workers & Firms (Updated June 26, 2020)
- The Economic Impact of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling Invalidating the State’s Safer at Home Order
- Protest Dynamics: Evidence from Foot Traffic Data
- Business Formation during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Updated June 29, 2020)
- The Wisconsin Economy During COVID-19: Lockdown and Reopening (Updated June 19, 2020)
- Reopening the Economy: Early Evidence from Georgia and Wisconsin
- Reopening Wisconsin Current Economic and Health Indexes , Regional Health and Economic Factors
- Measuring Economic Activity using Foot-Traffic Data
- Measuring proximity to others in the workplace
- Impact of State-wide Stay at Home Orders
- Consumer Responses to the Pandemic
- Air-Traffic as a Proxy for Economic Activity in the Transportation Sector
- Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Chinese Economy
- Unemployment Benefits under the Federal COVID-19 Relief Package
- Geographic Distribution of Workers Most at Risk Economically
- Forecasting Initial Unemployment Claims using Google Searches
- Growth of Initial Unemployment Claims across States
- June 17, 2020:
CARW Thought Leadership Series- “The Macroeconomic Outlook”
Webinar featuring a presentation by Noah Williams. Watch Video
- June 1, 2020:
WRA Virtual Town Hall with Speaker Robin Vos and UW Economist Noah Williams.
- May 27, 2020:
State Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform, Informational Hearing: you can listen to Noah Williams’s testimony here. Channel3000’s coverage is here and TownHall’s report is here.
- May 12, 2020:
The UW Now Livestream hosted by the Wisconsin Alumni Association: “Economic Effects of COVID-19“: An expert panel discussion featuring Ananth Seshadri, Brad Tank and Noah Williams, moderated by Mike Knetter. summary and video on uwalumni.com watch on YouTube
- April 29, 2020:
Live Web Discussion: “The Economic Impact of COVID-19“: A special presentation by Noah Williams, followed by Q & A moderated by Kim Ruhl and Simeon Alder. View Slides Watch Video
- WMC Business Coalition COVID-19 Update Webinars
ESTIMATED WISCONSIN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
With the repeal of the Safer at Home order, there are likely significant flows of people out of unemployment and back to work. Daily data on these workers is not available. Without a measure of this worker flow, our estimated rate will not track the true rate very well. For this reason, we have stopped updating the unemployment rate.
WISCONSIN INITIAL UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF WISCONSIN'S PUBLIC FIRMS
July 3, 2020
The Economic Impact of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling Invalidating the State’s Safer at Home Order
Using several real-time economic measures, this brief provides evidence suggesting a modestly positive impact of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling invalidating the state’s Safer at Home order on economic activity. In two weeks following the ruling, relative to states where non-essential businesses were shut down, Wisconsin experienced a larger increase in the number of small businesses open (7.8 ppts), net revenue for small businesses (4.6 ppts), employment of low-income workers (0.8 ppts), earnings of low-income workers (1.6 ppts), individual mobility as measured by GPS data on time spent outside residential locations (3.2 ppts) and consumer credit/debit card spending (3.1 ppts).
Two weeks after the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the state’s Safer at Home order on May 13, 2020: (1) the number of small businesses open increased by 9.9 percentage points, which is 7.8 percentage points larger than its synthetic control; (2) time spent at retail and recreation locations increased by 17 percentage points for Wisconsinites, which is 13.3 percentage points more than their counterparts in the synthetic control.
June 26, 2020
Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, there have been substantial protests in many cities around the country, and indeed around the world. In this brief I use foot traffic data to analyze the dynamics of the protests at different locations around the United States. In both Minneapolis and Washington, DC, I find protests growing in scale to a peak, and diminishing thereafter. Since early June, overall activity has dropped substantially in the zip code in Minneapolis that was at the heart of the protests, likely due to sustained damage at area businesses. In Washington, protest activity around the White House started later, growing to a peak on June 6. Activity has declined since then, but remains elevated relative to April and May, and has spiked on weekends. Overall, I find that the protests led to isolated spikes in activity at particular locations. But the protests did not substantially impact overall measures of activity in the metro areas where they took place.
updated June 29, 2020 (first posted June 11, 2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread job losses, and in addition there is timely and high-frequency data that shows a significant disruption in early-stage business formation. We find that changes in employment and labor force participation rates play a fairly limited role in accounting for business formation in “normal” times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, labor market disruptions of a truly unprecedented magnitude play a far more prominent role in explaining the collapse of business formation in the US. One of our concerns is that a prolonged decline in the labor market may have a scarring effect on business formation.
The update to the “Business Formation during the COVID-19 Pandemic” report adds the two most recent weeks of business formation data and links the state-level labor market data to business applications using the same accounting approach as the original report. Two developments stand out. First, the recovery of business applications is ongoing. In weeks 24 and 25 many, though not all states, are reporting higher numbers compared to the same weeks in prior years and, as a result, the gap in cumulative year-to-date applications is starting to shrink. The same picture emerges for the aggregate number of applications in the U.S. in weeks 24 and 25. Second, our year-on-year decomposition of 12-month growth rates in applications per person suggests that most of the most recent rise can be attributed to an increase in the number of applications per employed worker, rather than significant improvements in local labor markets. In fact, the labor force participation and employment rates for May continue to be weak by historical standards, though marginally better than the April report. The picture for the most promising business applications, the so-called high-propensity applications, is more mixed. Despite some improvements compared to the numbers reported in the original piece, the recovery of high-propensity applications is more subdued compared to the total number of applications. Put differently, there may still be room for improvement in the “quality” of new applications.
Updated June 19, 2020 (first posted June 11, 2020)
This brief summarizes data on the Wisconsin economy from onset of the pandemic, through the statewide Safer at Home Order, and in the weeks since the order was invalidated. I find that there was a sharp drop in economic activity during March, which bottomed out at a 59% year-over-year decline during the week of April 12. Since bottoming out, activity recovered some through early May, with slight easing of restrictions. The May 13 invalidation of the Safer at Home Order accelerated the recovery. There have been gains in all sectors, with total activity now down 17% year-over year, closing 2/3 of the total drop. Labor market data from a sample of small businesses largely follows the same trends. By mid April more than 40% of these businesses were closed, with employment down more than 50%. There has been a substantial recovery in the weeks that followed, as now only about 10% of locations remain closed, with employment also now down 15%. Finally, I analyze data on consumer spending from weekly transactions. After plummeting in March into April, spending in Wisconsin has recovered and is now up 1.7% over 2019. Consumption patterns shifted, with more spending on groceries and less at restaurants, and a growing share of spending has moved on-line, as in-store sales remain over 10% down.
While the data only covers the first ten days after the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, there was a noticeable increase in overall activity, which gained 7.5 percentage points in the past two weeks, closing 16% of the year-over-year gap. The gains were particularly notable in bars (up 75%) and full service restaurants (up 64%) last weekend relative to the weekend before the decision. Total activity still remained 38% below 2019 levels, but is well up from the 59% declines in mid-April, and the recent gains suggest a growing rebound. This is particularly true in the hardest hit sector of accommodations and food, such as hotels (up 11 points, but still down 60% from 2019) and full service restaurants (up 16 points, but still down 48% from 2019).
Current Economic and Health Indexes. May 7, 2020
Current economic index and its components statewide and in the five highest and lowest counties in Wisconsin.
Current health index and its components by HERC region.
“On average, the counties in Wisconsin that were in worse economic condition before the COVID-19 pandemic have suffered the largest losses during the crisis.” Noah Williams, April 28, 2020.
Most proposals to “reopen” the economy suggest a staged reopening, beginning with relatively low-risk sectors. We score industries by the need for workers to be proximate to others and find that the healthcare industry has the highest score, followed by hospitality and food service. Manufacturing and retail are intermediate and the professional and management industries have relatively low score.
Updated May 6, 2020 (first posted April 2, 2020)
“Economic activity in Wisconsin, as measured by foot traffic data, has recovered slightly over the past two weeks. Activity fell sharply though March and early April, hitting a low of a 60% drop year-over-year for the week of April 12. However there has been a partial recovery over the last two weeks, with an easing of some restrictions and a reduction in social distancing, with total activity down 45% for the week ending May 2. Retail trade led the recovery, going from down 44% the week of April 12 to down 22% last week. There was also modest recovery in accommodation and food services, health care, and finance, all of which saw relative gains of 10-15 percentage points over the past two weeks. But even with this recent rebound, activity remains far below 2019 levels.”
The fraction of Wisconsinites at home all day increased by about 20 percentage points in March (Level). A comparison with its synthetic control, a weighted average of states without a stay-at-home order by the end of the month, suggests that about 20% of the increase (4 percentage points) can be attributed to the Safer at Home order (Difference). Junjie Guo, April 29, 2020.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the United States, consumers have changed their spending habits dramatically. There has been a sharp drop in consumption, but also a large shift: grocery spending has risen while restaurant and especially travel spending has fallen sharply. The consumption decline overall was cushioned by increasing on-line sales. In Wisconsin, total sales were down 15% at the end of March, but in-store sales were down 30%, with online sales up 20%. Noah Williams, April 23, 2020
Media Mentions of CROWE Research
June 1, 2020
Wisconsin Business Voice Video Series: UW-Madison Professor & Director of Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE), Noah Williams discussed the economic impacts of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and our current unemployment status. Watch here
May 13, 2020
“UW-Madison’s Economists: 2022 is the Target for Return Normalcy in these Key Areas” — Mike Semmann, Executive VP/COO, Wisconsin Banker’s Association, summarizes the highlights of The UW Now Expert Panel discussion on the Economic Effects of COVID-19 in a rapid fire Q & A format. Read it here
May 13, 2020
WisBusiness.com summarizes The UW Now Expert Panel discussion on the Economic Effects of COVID-19 –“As Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is estimated to exceed 20 percent based on initial unemployment claims, rural northern parts of the state are seeing a larger impact.” Read more
May 12, 2020
City Journal “Policymakers should move toward a phased-in, regional approach to re-openings—and pay attention not only to infections but also unemployment.” – says Noah Williams in “Economic Well-being Matters, Too”. Read More
April 26, 2020
CNN Tonight featured an interview with Noah Williams in a story “Wisconsin’s economy hit hard by the coronavirus” by @miguelmarquez highlighting the difficulties people are facing. Watch it here.
April 8, 2020
Green Bay Press-Gazette cites Noah Williams’s Foot-traffic data in “How many visitors did Wisconsin businesses lose because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing? Report says 52% drop in foot traffic” Read more
April 2, 2020
City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research featured Noah Williams’s article “Thinking Past the Crisis- Federal expansion of jobless benefits is necessary but may impede recovery”. Read more