Badger Institute: Partial shutdown costs state $178.9 million in lost GDP every day

The partial shutdown of Wisconsin’s economy costs the state $178.9 million in lost production daily, according to a new Badger Institute policy brief authored by economist Andrew Hanson.

The first month of the shutdown – which started on March 25 – likely cost Wisconsin $5.3 billion in lost production. If the shutdown lasts for two months, with no changes in policy, the toll would reach an estimated $10.7 billion – a loss of approximately 18.7% of the GDP forecast made prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

“These estimates are meant to give policymakers a starting point for evaluating the economic costs of partially shutting down Wisconsin’s economy,” said Hanson, an associate professor in the Finance Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The findings are not a value judgment on the economic shutdown but are meant to provide meaningful data for those making these judgments.”

Lost production from the shutdown varies widely by counties across Wisconsin. Milwaukee County forgoes about $30 million per day, Dane County about $20.7 million per day, while Menominee County loses $37,659 per day and Pepin County loses $91,355 per day.

In terms of the percentage of production lost, Manitowoc County has the highest at 32.35% of daily production lost and Menominee the lowest at 7.3% of production lost.

Other counties with high percentage losses include Langlade (29.5%), Chippewa (27%), Ashland (26.8%) and Washburn (25.9%) counties, all of which are estimated to lose more than one-fourth of economic activity every day of the shutdown.

The least affected counties by percentage of lost economic activity are Menominee (7.3% of daily economic activity lost), Kewaunee (11%), Pepin (12.1%), Lafayette (12.4%) and Polk (12.6%).

Milwaukee County (17.32%) and Dane County (15.9%) are more toward the bottom of the distribution in terms of the percentage of lost economic activity among counties in Wisconsin.

County-level data on the impact of COVID-19 – the number of cases and deaths in each of the 72 counties – can be found at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website,

“State policymakers are going to have to decide whether to allow more businesses to open on a regional basis,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols. “They already have some data regarding the wide array of impacts of the virus in each and every county. We hope this new data helps them factor in the impacts on the economic side as well.”

The data on GDP used in Hanson’s analysis comes from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and includes market production and some non-market production. It’s important to note that his findings are an estimate of lost economic activity, not a calculated accounting. The estimates cannot account for differentiating between what economic activity is merely delayed and that which is permanently lost.

You can find the report, along with the modeling procedures and a county-by-county breakdown, here.