Study: Flu Pandemic Could Lead to U.S. Recession

A severe pandemic flu outbreak could result in the second-worst recession in the United States since World War II, with the gross domestic product dropping more than 5.5 percent, according to a report recently published by Trust for America’s Health.

In its study, TFAH indicated states with high levels of tourism and entertainment would likely be the hardest hit. It estimated Nevada’s economy would face a loss in GDP of 8.08 percent, followed by Hawaii, which it prediected would have a GDP loss of 6.6 percent. Other states that could suffer high losses were Alaska, Wyoming, Nebraska and Louisiana. Furthermore, the report predicted an additional 21 states could see their GDP drop more than 5.5 percent.

“The U.S. is not prepared to face an economic shock of this magnitude,” said Jeff Levi, TFAH executive director. “While important government preparedness efforts focusing mainly on medical and public health strategies are underway, efforts to prepare for the possible economic ramifications have been seriously inadequate. Stepping up pandemic preparedness planning is vital to our national and economic security.”

The report, “Pandemic Flu and the Potential for U.S. Economic Recession,” used a model to assess the potential losses in each state, basing the estimates on information from financial and economic experts,” TFAH said. The model examined an outbreak as severe as the 1918 pandemic in modern terms, which could result in nearly 90 million Americans becoming sick and 2.2 million deaths. People who become ill are expected to take at least three weeks to recover, meaning they would miss significant time from work. Others also would stay home out of fear of potential flu exposure or to take care of ill family members, TFAH indicated.

To view the full report, visit or