The state has a long road ahead before the economy returns to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest report from Forward Analytics.

Forward Analytics is the research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association. “The COVID Economy: The Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Wisconsin” examines the economic damage wrought by the pandemic in Wisconsin from March through November 2020.

“Wisconsin, like the rest of our nation, has been battered from all directions by COVID-19,” said Forward Analytics Director Dale Knapp, who authored the report.  “This latest report quantifies the impact it has had on workers and businesses, including loss of jobs, reductions in GDP, the closing of small businesses, and increased household reliance on the FoodShare program.”

The hit to Wisconsin’s economy in the first half of 2020, particularly during March through May, was enormous, according to the report. Wisconsin’s GDP fell 11.4 percent, and the unemployment rate soared from 3.5 percent in February to 13.6 percent in April, the highest it has been since the Great Depression.

Historical federal assistance helped lessen the economic damage — the federal CARES Act injected nearly $20 billion into the state economy via $1,200 cash payments to individuals, $600 per week of additional unemployment benefits and forgivable loans to small businesses designed to keep workers on the payroll.

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