Analysis: Economy declines statewide, but some of our localities grew in 2Q

virginia economy

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Virginia’s economy retracted 8.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as the full force of the economic restrictions from the state COVID-19 response was felt.

Against that backdrop, four of the seven local economies in our coverage area actually showed at least modest growth in the second quarter: Augusta County, Rockingham County, Staunton and Waynesboro.

The analysis is based on data from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, which tracks taxable sales for localities across the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth as a whole, and breaks them down into reports both quarterly and annually.

It’s the closest thing to local and state GDP that I’ve seen in terms of this level of economic data.

Growth

The growth rate was most robust in Augusta County, at 9.7 percent, from $115.2 million in 2020 Q1 to $126.4 million in 2020 Q2.

The year-to-year second quarter comparison did show a bit of a retraction in Augusta County: from $130.3 million in 2019 Q2 to the $126.4 million in 2020 Q2, a decline of 3.0 percent.

The growth from 2020 Q1 to 2020 Q2 in Rockingham County was modest, just under 1.0 percent, from $163.9 million in economic activity in Q1 to $165.5 million in Q2.

Year-to-year, Rockingham County grew from $155.0 million in taxable sales in 2019 Q2 to the $165.5 million in Q2 2020, a rate of 6.8 percent.

Staunton was more like Augusta County, growing from 2020 Q1 ($96.7 million) to 2020 Q2 ($97.4 million), a rate of 0.7 percent, with a year-to-year decline – from $102.6 million in 2019 Q2 to the $97.4 million in 2020 Q2 (a 5.1 percent decline).

Waynesboro Q1 to Q2 growth was at 4.3 percent, from $120.3 million in Q1 to $125.5 million in Q2. The year-to-year growth was at the same rate, because its 2019 Q2 economic activity was also measured at $120.3 million.

Decline

The steepest decline was felt in Charlottesville, which had seen $233.2 million in local tax sales in 2020 Q1, then dropped to $166.5 million in 2020 Q2, a drop of 28.2 percent.

The year-to-year drop was more pronounced: from $255.3 million in 2019 Q2 to the $166.5 million in 2020 Q2, a retraction of 34.8 percent.

Albemarle County had registered $369.0 million in economic activity in 2020 Q1, and saw activity decline to $326.1 million in 2020 Q2, a drop of 13.2 percent.

Year to year, the drop was in the same ballpark: from $391.2 million in 2019 Q2 to the $326.1 million in 2020 Q2, a reduction of 16.6 percent.

Last up in our analysis is Harrisonburg: which saw economic activity decline from $315.1 million in 2020 Q1 to $277.8 million in 2020 Q2, a decrease of 11.8 percent.

The year-to-year drop was 17.7 percent, from $338.8 million in 2019 Q2 to the $277.8 million in 2020 Q2.

For the Commonwealth as a whole, Q1 2020 was at $25.9 billion, falling to $23.8 billion in Q2 2020, for the 8.1 percent decline already noted.

Year to year, Q2 2019 was at $27.6 billion, so the drop for Q2 2020 was 13.8 percent.

Story by Chris Graham


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