5 tips for local economic assessments of COVID-19

Updated: Sep 29

COVID-19 and the public health response to it forced massive changes on economies everywhere. Understanding what this means for places demands new approaches, sources of information and monitoring frameworks.

Real-time economic data

Behind every sound economic recovery plan is an up-to-date understanding of the economy. Local leaders need this to focus resources on the right things. But the economic context of COVID-19 is unique. It is closer to a large-scale natural disaster than a typical recession. And these economy-stopping events generate information needs outside the scope of traditional development strategy...

  1. Consult widely to understand routes to impact. Major disasters interfere with everyday economic behaviours in ways that slower-burn recessions do not. The stoppages and adaptions that follow have big impacts. Some are predictable and visible but many are hidden.

  2. Look beyond official data sources to now-cast the economy. Official datasets on labour and product markets are designed to support policy making over the business cycle, not to track disaster-induced impacts in real time. Snap polls and published data from tech usage can help.

  3. Focus on the issues that are most relevant to economic recovery. Post-COVID economic assessments must support decision making in a fast-moving context. Local leaders need a clear, evidence-based view of the most important trends. Wide-ranging ‘data dumps’ help nobody.

  4. Answer the ‘so what?’ questions. The assessment should unpack the implications for the end user of the information it contains. Otherwise it’s just context of limited value. The analysis should map onto strategic priorities and areas of decision-making.

  5. Provide a framework for ongoing monitoring. Point-in-time reports age quickly during a fast-moving economic event. The best analyses identify core indicators to keep watch over. These will tie into trigger points for more thoroughgoing re-assessment and scenario planning.

Download the full briefing here:

PolicyDepartment briefing on doing post-COVID assessments of local economies