By Andrew Hanson
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.
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.
These estimates are also not meant to be a value judgement.
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 judgement. They should be weighed along with many other factors when making any decisions about both economic and public health considerations.
Estimates suggest that the partial shutdown of Wisconsin’s economy costs the state $178.9 million in lost production daily.
This figure represents 18.7% of 2020 daily forecast production, amounting to $30.62 per state resident per day.
Lost production from the shutdown varies widely by counties across Wisconsin – Milwaukee County forgoes about $30 million per day, and Dane County about $20.7 million per day, while Menominee County loses $37,659 per day and Pepin County loses $91,355 per day.
Sheboygan County forgoes about $4.5 million per day.
Any policy decision should consider how these costs compare to effectiveness of the policy as measured by health outcomes such as caseload reductions and lived saved, and consider many other factors.
Unsurprisingly, counties with high levels of economic activity have the highest cost of a shutdown.
Some of the top per person losses are estimated in places with relatively high populations including Eau Claire County ($43.61), Dane County ($38.62), Sheboygan County ($38.35) and Winnebago County ($37.34). Production in Wisconsin counties that can be done from “home” Sheboygan 35.66%.
Preliminary accounts suggest that the economic effects of shutdowns (and of the COVID-19 virus) are disproportionally felt by lower-wage workers