Tri-State economists respond to nation’s historic GDP decline

Tri-State economists respond to nation’s historic GDP decline

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Staggering numbers released Thursday showcased the dire aftermath that COVID-19 has left upon the U.S. economy.

The damage was evident in the 32.9% decline in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the second quarter - the worst quarterly plunge ever recorded in U.S. history.

This significant economic hit also directly affects the Tri-State area. However, Old National Chief Economist Matt Finn says we’re now past the worst of it.

“We think the trades - the housing related trades are poised for a nice recovery,” Finn said. “The other thing is local manufacturers all have ‘help wanted’ signs out. They are all wanting to hire people.”

Greg Wathen of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana states that manufacturers like Toyota and Berry Global are currently performing well as the economy starts to rebound. Berry Global transitioned to producing PPE products, while Toyota is back to full production after a month-long halt.

“It’s because no one was producing vehicles,” Wathen said. “And then you started seeing the stimulus checks, and people were saying, ‘Maybe I can go out and buy a vehicle,’ but there was less inventory on dealers’ lots, and now you’re beginning to see that they’re sort of catching up - the demand for vehicles has increased.”

Bars, restaurants and some local businesses still continue to work through coronavirus-related struggles. Although some jobs that have been lost may not return, Finn believes the local economy is trending in a good direction.

“Most consumers have a very high savings rate,” Finn said. “Prices are low, gas prices are low, food prices are relatively low, so consumers are actually in pretty good shape, and with the rebound in the economy calling people back to work, things re-opening - we think we’ll be okay.”

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