COVID-19 Analysis: States with most restrictions had the most job losses

By an McCaleb - The Center Square

(The Center Square) — States with fewer restrictions are doing better economically than states that put in place more stringent lockdowns to slow the spread COVID-19, according to an analysis of jobs data by

Comparisons of total jobs in U.S. states between May 2020 and May 2019 show Utah (-4.8 percent), Arizona (-5.7), Idaho (-5.9), Arkansas (-7.1), Nebraska (-7.1) and Texas (-7.2) shed the fewest jobs year-over-year, the analysis shows. All of these states have Republican governors who took less aggressive approaches to restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Texas and Arizona are among a handful of states that have seen spikes in new cases.

Hawaii (-20.1), Michigan (-19.2), New York (-18.3), Nevada (-17.3), Vermont (-17.1), New Jersey (-16.5) and Massachusetts (-16.4) shed the most jobs, year-over-year. All of these states but Vermont and Massachusetts have Democratic governors and many put in place some of the strictest lockdowns in place.

“You can see in the rankings that red states/less severe shutdown states are outperforming blue states/more severe shutdowns,” Michael Lucci, president and publisher of, told The Center Square in an email, noting that the data is from May but he expects the trends to hold. “Michigan and New York are performing particularly poorly. The entire northeast corridor lags, as we would expect with the shutdowns and virus impact.”

Ohio, with Republican governor Mike DeWine, lost nearly 760,000 jobs, or 13.6 percent, which was 37th of 51 reporting entities. This analysis included the District of Columbia as a state.

Editor’s note: This analysis did not provide information on the number of COVID-19 patients in states with strict reglations vs. states with less-strict regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that the U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, breaking a record that was set just in May, when 2.7 million jobs were added as states started easing business restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Despite the May and June jobs numbers, 19.3 million workers were receiving unemployment benefits as of June 20, according to the Department of Labor.

“Year-over-year, there are losses across the board,” Lucci said. “Construction and manufacturing are performing relatively better. So are education and health services, as would be expected. Leisure and hospitality along with a number of other services are performing relatively worse.”

Construction saw a 4.4 percent in total jobs between May 2020 and May 2019. Manufacturing saw a 5.8 percent drop while education and health services declined by 5.6 percent.

The leisure and hospitality sector dropped 27.1 percent of its jobs, even though of the 4.8 million jobs created in June, 2 million were in the hospitality and leisure industry.

Overall, Lucci said the June report is “very good news.”

“Unemployment rate is dropping, household employment is bouncing back, and labor force participation is expanding in the last two months. That is all great news,” he said. “However, it is worth noting that unemployment is understated because the labor force is still down by 4.6 million since February.”

By an McCaleb

The Center Square

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at [email protected].

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at [email protected].