Research / White PaperApr 27, 2020

Post-Lockdown Economic Recovery in China: February and March

The Chinese government ended the 76-day lockdown of Wuhan on April 8. Outside Wuhan, many local governments had already eased restrictions on movement and shifted their focus to reviving the economy. This letter documents several facts of the post-lockdown economic recovery in China. The main findings are summarized as follows.

  1. The official statistics suggest a quick recovery in manufacturing. The bouncing-back of manufacturing can also be seen in non-official data on city-to-city truck flows, active online job posts and air pollution emissions.
  2. Electricity consumption, retail sales and catering income suggest a much more persistent output decline in services. The business registration data also shows less firm entry in services.
  3. There is huge cross-region heterogeneity. Our data on visits to key locations and firm entry suggest a stronger recovery in the southeast region.
  4. Small businesses were hit much harder; their February sales shrank to about 35% of their 2019 level, but have been slowly recovering in March 2020. April will be the key month to determine the recovery speed.

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