FILE - face mask, store closing, store closed, Illinois, Virus Outbreak

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, file photo, a man wearing a face mask rides a bicycle past a closed store in Wilmette, Ill. 

(The Center Square) – Illinois’ economy was among the most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic decimated state economies after restrictions were placed on businesses, but some states were in a better position to deal with the crisis than others. According to the financial website WalletHub, Illinois ranked 15th in state economies most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

To identify states whose economies were hit the most by the coronavirus, WalletHub used two key dimensions: “Highly Affected Industries & Workforce” and “Resources for Businesses to Cope Better with the Crisis.”

Analyst Jill Gonzalez said a couple of areas helped Illinois’ economy.

"You have things like retail that has bounced back, agriculture is one of the quickest ones to bounce back that are certainly helping Illinois right now,” Gonzalez said.

After the recommendation of health experts, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his “bridge phase” will serve as a measured approach toward reopening the state. Phase 5 will begin when 50% of Illinoisans 16 and older have been vaccinated or COVID-19 metrics decline over a 28-day period. Until that time, business and event restrictions will remain in place.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported 16,182 new unemployment claims were filed during the week of March 29, a 14% increase from the previous week. Since early March 2020, there have been more than 3.5 million total claims filed in the state.

The most exposed state economies during the pandemic were Louisiana, Oklahoma and Hawaii. Hawaii experienced the highest decrease in real GDP (2020 vs. 2019) at 8.01%, while Utah experienced the lowest decrease at 0.10%.

The least exposed state economies were Washington, Arizona and Oregon.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.