The Economic Cost of the 500,000 Lives Lost to COVID‑19

Published on February 23, 2021
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The United States recently reached a tragic milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic when the number of lives lost reached 500,000. The suffering and hardships imposed by these losses are incalculable and the primary concern, with few Americans not personally affected in some way

The Perryman Group estimates that as the direct losses flow through the economy in the coming years, the 500,000 fatalities will cause losses of $356 billion in gross domestic product, nearly $218 billion in personal income, and 3.6 million job-years (including multiplier effects). (A job year is one person working for one year, though it could be multiple individuals working partial years.) Industries with particularly high cumulative losses include retail trade (with over 1.2 million lost job-years), various services sectors, and manufacturing.

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