News & Politics

Report: How the Rampaging Covid Crisis in Other Parts of the US Clouds Washington’s Economic Recovery

The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University is out with its latest economic update.

Image provided by The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University. The Washington region’s Coincident Index is a composite of several economic data points that's used to measure the strength of the local economy.

The Washington region’s economic collapse appears to have bottomed out in May, but the escalation of the Covid-19 crisis in other parts of the country has clouded the DC area’s outlook for a recovery. That’s the takeaway from the most recent monthly economic report compiled by researchers at the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University, which was released Wednesday.

The local economy improved modestly from April to May, though it remained dramatically weaker than it was a year ago. The monthly improvement was linked to a slight increase in air travel, according to the report. The volume of domestic passengers traveling through Dulles and Reagan National Airports cratered by nearly 96 percent in April from a year earlier, according to the report. In May, the figure plummeted by 92 percent from the prior year.

According to the report, “these gains were small and isolated relative to the breadth of the initial declines and do not yet reflect a broad-based recovery.”

Data from subsequent months, the report says, suggests that the local economy has begun a modest recovery. However, the researchers note that health metrics will determine the timing and strength of the recovery, and they expressed concern that the surge in Covid-19 cases elsewhere may serve as a drag on Washington’s economy.

“Overall, economic conditions in the Washington region have improved modestly through June,” the researchers said in their report. “Data for July indicate that this improvement will continue to be slow, with the potential for a stagnation in upcoming months. Even if local health metrics continue to improve, the deterioration of health conditions in other parts of the U.S. may spur local consumers to become more cautious and moderate the near-term recovery.”

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Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.