Blue states with the worst lockdowns lost the most jobs per capita to Covid as Congress rewards restrictions

The longer Congress pays states to remain closed, hurting working families, the longer this recession will continue.

By Robert Romano

Nevada, Hawaii, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Virginia, Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois, New York, Maine and Washington remain the states most impacted in jobs lost as a percent of the population during the Covid-induced recession that began a year ago, an Americans for Limited Government analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state and local household data shows.

In Nevada, where casinos are still have 50 percent room capacity limits, 6.4 percent, or 134,000 fewer individuals have jobs compared to Feb. 2020. 80 percent of that, or 108,000, is in leisure and hospitality alone, according to establishment state and local data from BLS.

Similarly, in Hawaii, whose economy is largely dependent on tourism, 6.1 percent, or 70,000 fewer individuals have jobs than a year ago. Nearly 54,000, or 77.1 percent of that is in leisure and hospitality.

In larger states like California, leisure and hospitality makes up roughly 50 percent of the job losses, with 799,000 out of 1.598 million of the total jobs lost. In New Jersey, leisure and hospitality constitute 31.4 percent of job losses, or 109,600 out of 348,000 of total jobs lost.

Thirteen out of the 15 states hardest hit are blue states run locally by Democrats with some of the worst lockdowns in the country. That includes Nevada, Hawaii, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York and Vermont, which are included in Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government breakdown of the states with the strongest Covid containment measures.

Maryland and Iowa are the only two states on this list with Republican governors. Iowa  experienced a surge in Covid cases in November. However, it is worth noting that Iowa also has one of the highest employment-population ratios in the country despite being tenth on the list of states that lost the most jobs per capita.

Florida and Texas were closer to the middle in terms of job losses with 524,000 and 558,000, or 3.5 percent and 3.3 percent, fewer jobs than a year ago, respectively.

Certain states that were initially among the harder hit in terms of job losses initially when labor markets bottomed in April 2020, like Michigan, Massachusetts, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio, have largely bounced back in restoring jobs as restrictions have eased.

Interestingly, Congressional Democrats in their recently passed $1.9 trillion Covid spending bill, which included of $571 billion in state bailouts in the bill including transportation, schools and Medicaid funding, may have missed a key benchmark by allocating state funds based on the number of individuals stating they are unemployed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey by excluding those individuals who indeed lost their jobs to Covid but have since given up looking for another job and have hence left the labor force.

As a result states like Virginia and Iowa saw decreases in federal funding despite being among the states harder hit with job losses per capita, according to an analysis by Republican members of the House Budge Committee. If Congress had wanted to account for the states hardest hit with a funding formula, members might have considered not only a total of those stating they were unemployed, but also those who have also left the labor force altogether since the pandemic began.

On the other hand, since the funding formula targets states with the highest unemployment rates, it is most certainly rewarding those states that had the most Covid restrictions. Could that become a perverse incentive going forward for states not to fully reopen?

After all, there is a long way to go for a full recovery as there remain 8.5 million jobs lost out of the 25 million initially lost in April 2020 to the pandemic. The longer Congress pays states to remain closed, hurting working families, the longer this recession will continue.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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This post, Blue states with the worst lockdowns lost the most jobs per capita to Covid as Congress rewards restrictions, was originally published on The Daily Torch and is republished here with permission. Please support their efforts.

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The Daily Torch is the featured publication of Americans for Limited Government, with opinion-based content dating back through 2008, dedicated to reducing the size and scope of government and maximizing individual freedom. Permission to republish original op-eds and cartoons granted.