As the United States continues to navigate the many economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new data tool helps provide communities a clear, detailed understanding of the pandemic’s impacts on local economies — and whether those communities might qualify for economic help.
Developed through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the National Economic Resilience Data Explorer (NERDE) provides a single, easy-to-use platform to access data on economic distress, employment and gross domestic product, clusters of industries and ongoing COVID-19 impacts for all Economic Development Districts (EDDs), as well as the more than 3,000 counties across the nation.
Community leaders can use the new tool to determine possible eligibility for EDA assistance as part of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus effort to accelerate ongoing recovery from the pandemic and enhance local economic resilience to future shocks. The tool can also help to inform local and regional economic development plans and initiatives.
The dashboard’s main page tracks near real-time impacts to local economies during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides insight into the recovery over time. Is the EDD’s or county’s economy worse off now, in the same shape, or in better condition than before the pandemic? One look at the dashboard’s County Economic Impact Index gives the answer. The tool provides an important regional perspective on economic health and vitality, allowing community leaders to design and implement projects more strategically.
“This new hub will improve access to relevant data in support of all kinds of economic development projects,” said Craig Buerstatte, EDA’s deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs. “The capabilities found in this tool highlight the importance of regional industry clusters, improve understanding of economic distress, and promote recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This tool is a game changer for all communities seeking to build back better.”
“Recovery from a pandemic is a years-long proposition, and communities and economic developers are likely asking questions about what they want the economy in their community to look like on the other side of this,” said Iain Hyde, the director of the National Preparedness Analytics Center within the Decision and Infrastructure Sciences division at Argonne, who helped lead the NERDE effort.
Greg Guibert, a senior resilience analyst at Argonne, agrees.
We’ve tried to show the strengths and assets within each community but also its economic injuries from COVID-19. When economic developers are thinking about recovery, the full picture is available to help identify the right solutions,” he said.
The dashboard, available on Argonne’s website, also lets decision makers delve into the following:
* Unemployment rate and its change within the top five industries in the EDD or county, ranked by Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
* Per-capita income.
* Top industries by employment and GDP and their growth rates.
* Concentration of local and regional industries.
* Economic risk factors or indicators of special need such as persistent poverty, lack of innovation, high concentration of coal sector jobs or proximity to federally recognized tribal lands.
* Economic changes over time, monthly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.