The recovery from pandemic-fueled recession is happening, but it’s uneven and could be derailed easily if coronavirus cases continue to surge and Congress fails to pass another relief package, according to experts speaking Wednesday at a webinar providing an economic outlook for Wisconsin and the New North.
The webinar hosted by the Donald J. Schneider School of Business & Economics at St. Norbert College featured representatives from the college and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
“It’s definitely been a fractured recovery, with people on the lower end of the economic spectrum, unfortunately, being hit harder,” said Marc Schaffer, director of St. Norbert’s Center for Business & Economic Analysis.
According to 2020 data gathered so far, March and April were the worst months for the economy as many businesses closed down or drastically reduced hours to comply with the state’s Safer at Home order. Unemployment soared and spending — especially at restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues — plummeted.
“Looking back, we can see how significant the decline was … the economy was down 30-plus percent, but we have been able to bring those numbers up again,” said Peter Barca, secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue. “Right now, we predict to see real GDP recovery in early 2022 and a complete employment recovery by the end of 2022.”
John Koskinen, chief economist with the Department of Revenue, said sales of durable goods, such as appliances, vehicles and construction materials for homes, have increased, but the service industry has still not recovered, with the entertainment and hospitality sectors well below pre-pandemic levels.