As 2022 begins, we now know how hard COVID-19 hit the local economy in 2020, such as the speed with which official government data on real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is released. For the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), real GDP fell by 1.4% in 2020. However, the effect of COVID-19 was not uniform across all the counties in the MSA as shown in the table below. Burke County actually saw real GDP grow by 5.6% while Richmond County saw the biggest decline at 2.7%.
|County||% change real GDP (2020)|
Digging further into the numbers, identifies some of the reasons for these differences. Burke County, for example, saw output increase by 4.7% in utilities as the work at Plant Vogtle continues. Richmond and Columbia Counties saw declines in output across a range of private service-producing industries including “Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services” which decreased by 0.84% in Richmond and 0.54% in Columbia. In Aiken County, this sector contracted by 0.67%. Richmond and Columbia counties saw manufacturing output decline by 1.05%. Education and health services were also badly hit, output declining by about 0.5% in Richmond and Columbia counties. McDuffie’s strong numbers reflect increased output in “agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting,” where output increased by 2.57%.