Wisconsin’s real gross domestic product grew at a 6% annualized rate in the first quarter, a pace the state only exceed three times since 2005, but it was still not enough to push the state’s economy back to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
In fact, Wisconsin’s GDP is still about 1.5% smaller than it was in the fourth quarter of 2019 after accounting for inflation. Measured in 2012 dollars, the state's GDP was $305 billion in first quarter, compared to $310 billion in the last full quarter before the pandemic hit.
Only 11 states have a larger gap remaining from their pre-pandemic level. A total of 15 states exceeded their late 2019 GDP figures in the first quarter
Manufacturing, which accounted for roughly 19.6% of state GDP in the quarter, has rebounded beyond its late 2019 level, as have the construction, wholesale and retail trade, finance and insurance, real estate, management and administrative and support sectors.
Sectors continuing to lag behind their pre-pandemic level include education, health care and social assistance, arts and entertainment, accommodation and food service and transportation and warehousing.
The health care and social assistance sector is down nearly 47% from before the pandemic and accommodation and food service is off more than 22%.
Even within manufacturing, the durable goods portion is up almost 8% while nondurable goods is off nearly 3%.
While the state’s economy has work to do to return to pre-pandemic levels, many sectors did see strong growth in the first quarter. Durable goods manufacturing grew at a 20% annualized rate, wholesale trade was up 8% and retail trade grew nearly 10%. Professional, scientific and technical services was up nearly 13% and management of companies grew more than 14%
Arts and entertainment and accommodation and food service, two sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, grew more than 20% and 17% respectively.
Not every sector was up. Health care contracted 2.4% and nondurable goods shrank 1%.
Wisconsin’s growth also lagged behind the rest of the country, ranking 36th. Nevada was the fastest growing state in the quarter, up 10.9%. Utah, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Colorado were also in the top five.