Report estimates COVID lockdowns cost every Minnesotan $1,900 in lost GDP

For a family of four, that comes out to $7,464 in lost GDP.


A new report from a Minnesota think tank has calculated the cost of COVID lockdowns and restrictions during the first year of the pandemic.

On Tuesday the Center of the American Experiment released its findings on the economic damage done by government policies in response to the COVID pandemic, in the first part of a report authored by economists John Phelan and Martha Njolomole.

Titled “The Cost of Lockdowns and Shutdowns: Part I,” the report found that the severe COVID restrictions implemented from March 2020 through the first quarter of 2021 cost each Minnesota resident $1,866 in lost GDP — 15th worst among all U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

For a family of four, that comes out to $7,464 in lost GDP.

Minnesota’s total GDP in the first quarter of 2021 was also an estimated $10.6 billion lower than it would have been without strict COVID policies. That represents a 3.1% decrease, placing Minnesota right in the middle of the pack among all U.S. states and D.C.

The state of Utah saw the least economic contraction with 2.1% lost GDP, while Hawaii experienced the greatest contraction at 4.2% lost GDP.

Phelan and Njolomole clarify that the data does not make a determination on whether government-imposed lockdowns were the right or wrong response to the pandemic. Rather, they believe their report will help policymakers weigh the costs and benefits to arrive at a determination.

“We can now begin to answer the question of whether the cost of these policy responses —$7,464 for a family of four Minnesotans over the first year of the pandemic — were worth the benefits,” the economists write.

The second part of the center’s report, which will be released within the next two weeks, will examine the learning losses of Minnesota schoolchildren due to restrictions on in-person learning, many of which lasted well into 2021.

Recent data from the Minnesota Department of Education, however, shows student proficiency in the state’s public schools continues to fall behind.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.