GVSU economist: COVID-19 impact worse than start of Great Recession

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The COVID-19 pandemic is now expected to hit West Michigan’s economy harder than the start of the Great Recession, according to a new analysis from a Grand Valley State University economist.

Paul Isely says if state health officials are correct that the pandemic will peak in Michigan in early to mid-May, the local economy’s decline will total more than $3 billion – equating to a recession slightly worse than 2008-2009.

Isley said the manufacturing industry will take the biggest hit, accounting for 41% of the decline. Another 26% of the drop will be connected to entertainment, food services and retail.

The associate dean and professor of economics at GVSU’s Seidman College of Business says the crisis caused by COVID-19 is unprecedented for economists in modern times.

Nearly 10 million people nationwide filed for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks. Isley says that number matched the level of unemployment in 2009 to 2010, and he expects more claims within the next two weeks.

After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased restrictions on filing for unemployment, Michigan set a record for jobless applications, with roughly 429,000 unemployment claims filed over the past two weeks.

There is a potential bright spot: Isley says there’s a possibility manufacturing will ramp up in one to three months beginning in late May or June, meaning the economy could quickly recuperate many of those job losses.


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