The state’s economic decline brought on by the pandemic could be with us long after COVID-19 ceases to be a public health emergency, says Lisa Brown, director of the Washington Department of Commerce.
If previous recessions both here and around the world are any indication, Brown says, it will be three or four years before the economy in Washington reaches its pre-COVID level. The state commerce department has created an economic recovery dashboard to track everything from taxable business income to food insecurity.
Brown said pulling all of the data together for the dashboard helps illustrate how dire things are, and where the biggest trouble spots are. She said it will help state and local governments track the data and apply resources to help the economy recover.
The information is broken down by counties and demographics. Chris Green, assistant director of the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness with the Department of Commerce, said it’s important to look at the big picture and include factors such as social safety net data.
“When you see 100,000 new people accessing food programs, it helps us think about how we need to make the economy work for all folks when we think about recovery,” Green said at a media briefing.
He said even a robust gross domestic product, or GDP, doesn’t tell the whole story.
Brown said one thing the department is looking at is how to help small businesses, such as restaurants, survive given that the economic pain will last much longer than originally thought.