Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Crisis, one of the most common questions we have received is “How is the economy of Greater Mankato doing?” Unfortunately, many of the primary indicators designed to show economic performance have a significant lag period, particularly when attempting to analyze an individual Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example, July unemployment figures at the MSA level are not scheduled to be released until September 2 and 2019 GDP figures at the MSA level are not scheduled to be released until December 2020.
In a collaboration between Harvard University, Brown University and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an economic tracker has been released that allows a much more timely and much more local look at the available data. While data has not been released for the Mankato-North Mankato MSA as a whole, we can look at data for both Blue Earth and Nicollet County. Data can be reviewed at tracktherecovery.org or by viewing the report below, which contains data accessed on August 12, 2020 as well as a comparison of employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Consumer spending, small business revenue, and the number of small businesses open have all tracked up since their low points around April 1. Nicollet County is currently outperforming the state average in all three of these categories and small business revenue is currently up 14.6% relative to revenue in January. With significant fluctuations, Blue Earth County consumer spending and small business revenues, which outperformed state averages when data was first accessed one week ago, have currently dipped just below the state average, but are still showing significant improvements relative to April.
The two charts outlining change in employment and change in earnings among low-income workers have the biggest lag in this group and we look forward to seeing the change in these charts when they are updated to reflect the 3,000 jobs the Mankato-North Mankato regained in June.