New data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Williamson County’s gross domestic product jumped by about 4.6% in 2019.
However, that rate of growth is unlikely to continue through 2020 and 2021. The data on last year’s growth comes after a 2020 that has been financially devastating for many people across the U.S. and in Williamson County.
The BEA doesn’t have county level data for 2020, but the U.S. economy shrunk by about 31% during the second quarter of 2020. It bounced back somewhat during the third quarter, but the situation is still grim.
Government benefits propped up personal incomes for Tennesseans through the first six months of the pandemic, but by October many people stopped receiving those benefits and personal incomes dropped.
In an economic forecast for 2021, the consulting company Deloitte predicts that the economy will grow slowly or even contract during the first part of the year because of damage already inflicted by the pandemic.
“Just how bad will the damage prove to be? We won’t know until recovery really gets underway. Our baseline scenario assumes that the damage is sufficiently critical that growth—particularly employment growth—will be restrained after an initial period of recovery,” Deloitte forecaster Daniel Bachman wrote in the report.
Williamson County started off 2020 with an unemployment rate of 2.5%, the lowest in Tennessee. By April, that number jumped to 10.5%, well above the unemployment during the 2008 recession.
Those lost jobs started to return quickly after the state eased lockdown requirements. Last month, the jobless rate was only 3.3%. The number of people starting new businesses also fell dramatically during lockdowns, but bounced back during the second half of the year. Both numbers are promising indicators of the start of a recovery.
With two effective vaccines, many business owners are hopeful that 2021 will be more prosperous than 2020. However, the number of active COVID-19 cases surged in December, making consumers wary about venturing out to shops, restaurants and offices.
All of that means that 2020 probably won’t match 2019’s rapid economic growth, and the coronavirus pandemic will continue to cut into economic growth in 2021.
According to the BEA data, Williamson County produced $23.2 billion in goods and services in 2019.
Professional and business services made of the biggest portion of the county’s GDP, representing about a quarter of the Williamson County economy. Finance, insurance and real estate made up the second largest industry, accounting for about 16.4% of total GDP.
The information sector saw the highest rate of growth last year, growing by about 24%. Professional services and construction also expanded quickly in 2019, growing by 8.8% and 6.9% respectively.
The education and health care sector shrunk by about 1% last year. The arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sector, as well as manufacturing, also contracted very slightly.