Wisconsin’s economic growth among the slowest in the country in 2021


Last updated on May 12th, 2022 at 11:27 am

Wisconsin’s economic growth was among the slowest in the country and lagged behind all nearby states in 2021, although the state did end the year on a strong note, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The state’s real gross domestic product increased 3.8% from 2020 to 2021, the 10th slowest rate in the country. It was the slowest growth among nearby states, a group led by Indiana’s 6.9% growth. Iowa, 6.4%, and Michigan, 6.2%, also both topped 6% while Minnesota and Illinois grew 5.7% and 5% respectively.

Across the wider Midwest region, only North Dakota at 2.1% had a slower growth rate than Wisconsin in 2021.

However, the 3.8% growth rate was Wisconsin’s strongest for a single year since 1999.

Wisconsin did end the year with an annualized growth rate of 6.1% from the third to fourth quarters. The pace of growth to close out the year was the best among nearby states and ranked 24th in the country.

According to the BEA data, the state’s economy is yet to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Measured in 2012 dollars, Wisconsin’s real GDP was nearly $303.9 billion in 2019. After dipping to $291.7 billion in 2020, it recovered to $302.8 billion this past year.

Wisconsin’s -0.2% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2021 is tied with Pennsylvania and Illinois for 11th worst in the country.

Among nearby states, Iowa and Indiana have seen growth rates of 2.1% since 2019, the 10th best pace in the country. Minnesota has seen a 0.7% growth rate while Michigan came in at 0.6%.

Wisconsin’s growth in 2021 was led by the manufacturing sector, which was up 7.9% for the year. The durable goods sector contributed a full percentage point to growth while nondurable goods and 0.35 of a point.

Professional and business services also grew 8%, contributing 0.73 percentage points to growth.

Wisconsin’s leisure and hospitality sectors also continued their recovery from the pandemic. Arts and entertainment grew 24.5% for the year, contributing 0.15 points to growth. Accommodation and food service was up 15.9%, contributing 0.33 points.

Even with strong growth for the year, the leisure and hospitality sectors in Wisconsin still have a long way to go to fully recover from the pandemic. Arts and entertainment in the state has seen a -6.5% compound annual growth rate since 2019 while accommodation and food service has seen a -7.9% growth rate.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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