Special Report

State Economies Hit Hardest by COVID-19

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

26. Wisconsin
> 1-year GDP change: -2.9%
> Fastest growing industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+19.5%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-33.4%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 5.0%

Wisconsin’s 1-year GDP decline of 2.9% is the 26th largest among states. Like nearly every other state, Wisconsin’s arts, entertainment, and recreation industry contracted more than all others. The sector’s economic output declined by over one-third in 2020’s Q3 compared to 2019’s Q3.

Though Wisconsin had a relatively large GDP decline, its total employment only declined by 0.8% from September 2019 to September 2020. Of the 47 states with employment declines during that time, Wisconsin’s was the second lowest.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

27. Rhode Island
> 1-year GDP change: -2.9%
> Fastest growing industry: Finance and insurance (+9.5%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-44.0%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 7.3%

Rhode Island’s Q3 2020 GDP of $51.8 billion was 2.9% smaller than its Q3 2019 GDP of $53.4 billion, even as the state’s finance and insurance sector grew nearly 10% to over $5 billion in economic output in Q3 2020.

The largest sector in Rhode Island is government and government enterprises. From Q3 2019 to Q3 2020, this sector’s economic output dropped by 3.2%, from nearly $7.3 billion to just over $7.0 billion. Nationwide, this sector declined by 2.1% during that same time period.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

28. Illinois
> 1-year GDP change: -3.0%
> Fastest growing industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+51.6%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-48.2%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 6.9%

Illinois had the nation’s fifth largest economy in Q3 of 2019, with a GDP of $774.9 billion. Though it still ranked fifth a year later, its GDP contracted by 3.0%, down to $751.4 billion.

While the state had a relatively large one-year GDP decline, its agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry was much larger in Q3 2020 than the year before. The sector’s economic output increased by over 50%, from $8.3 billion to $12.6 billion. No other state had even a 30% increase in its agricultural sector.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

29. South Carolina
> 1-year GDP change: -3.1%
> Fastest growing industry: Finance and insurance (+6.5%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-38.6%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 4.4%

South Carolina’s GDP shrank by 3.1% from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020. Like nearly every other state, the state’s fastest shrinking industry was its arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, which went from over $1.4 billion economic output in Q3 2019 to less than $900 million in Q3 2020.

Though South Carolina’s GDP contracted significantly amid the pandemic, its unemployment rate stayed consistently lower than the national rate. The state’s February unemployment rate was one of the five lowest, at 2.5%. After peaking in May at 12.4%, it has since declined back to 4.4% as of November.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

30. Ohio
> 1-year GDP change: -3.2%
> Fastest growing industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+7.6%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-39.9%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 5.7%

Ohio’s GDP in Q3 2020 was $597.3 billion, 3.2% lower than it was in Q3 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect not only on economic output, but also on the job market of each state. Total employment declined by over 380,000 from September 2019 to September 2020, a 6.9% drop.

Though its overall GDP fell during that 12-month period, it was boosted somewhat by a 7.6% increase in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector, as well as a 1.3% increase in construction, even though the nationwide economic output of the construction sector fell 1.4% during that same time.

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