Red States’ Economies Fare Better Amid CCP Virus, Unemployment Data Indicates
The lockdowns imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic hammered the economy countrywide, with unemployment rising from a historically low 3.5 percent in February to a record high 14.7 percent in April, before gradually dropping to 7.9 percent in September. Yet states that Trump won in 2016 have dealt with the blow much better, the data indicates.
Of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment in September, nine went for President Donald Trump in 2016. Of the 10 states with the highest unemployment, nine went for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton that year.
The contrast becomes yet more stark when the states’ unemployment rates before the pandemic are taken into account.
Unemployment rates in red states have risen on average by less than 2.7 percentage points compared to September the year before. In blue states, they rose nearly 5 points.
The biggest winner was Nebraska, where the rate only increased from 3 percent to 3.5 percent. In South Dakota, the rate went up from 3.4 percent to 4.1 percent and in Alaska, from 6.2 percent to 7.2 percent.
Other relative winners were Kentucky (up 1.3 points), Mississippi (up 1.5 points), Missouri (1.6 points), Montana (up 1.8 points), Vermont (up 1.8 points), Iowa (up 1.9 points), and North Dakota (up 2 points)—all red states, save for Vermont. Kentucky and Montana have Democrat governors.
At the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii’s unemployment rate increased from 2.7 percent to 15.1 percent, Nevada’s from 3.7 percent to 12.6 percent, and California’s from 3.9 percent to 11 percent.
Other large increases were in Rhode Island (up 7 points), Massachusetts (up 6.8 points), Illinois (up 6.5 points), New York (up 5.8 points), and Texas (up 4.8 points)—all blue states, save for Texas. Massachusetts has a Republican governor.
Republican-led states tended to impose less-severe lockdowns in response to the pandemic and open their economies up earlier.
The pace of the recovery has slowed in recent months with some states reimposing lockdowns as the number of CCP virus cases increased with the coming fall. Eight states posted worse numbers than in August: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
On the other hand, states with the most dramatic drops in month-to-month unemployment were New Jersey (down 4.4 points), New York (down 2.8 points), and Rhode Island (down 2.4 points).
The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 55,000 to 787,000, an encouraging sign, since economists polled by Reuters expected 860,000 weekly filings.
A total of more than 23 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the week ending Oct. 3, a drop of just over 1 million from the week prior. There were 1.4 million people claiming such benefits at this time last year.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.