Special Report

State Economies Most Likely to Be Crippled by COVID-19

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

50. South Dakota
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 14.5% of total (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 28,187 (6.2% of workforce — the lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 2,040 (23.1 per 10,000 people — 14th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 10 (0.1 per 10,000 people — 2nd lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.8% (15th highest)

South Dakota’s economy is less exposed than the economies of other states to the effects of the pandemic and resulting economic fallout largely because of its employment composition. Only 14.5% of workers in South Dakota are employed in industries that are at high risk of slowdown due to efforts to contain the virus. Since mid-March, only 28,187 workers in the state, or 6.2% of the total labor force, have claimed unemployment — the smallest share among states.

See all stories featuring: Coronavirus in South Dakota

Source: AndreyKrav / iStock via Getty Images

49. Utah
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 17.0% of total (25th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 125,050 (7.9% of workforce — 2nd lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 4,123 (13.0 per 10,000 people — 23rd lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 41 (0.1 per 10,000 people — 5th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 14.8% (10th lowest)

Utah ranks as the state at the second lowest level of risk of economic damage due to COVID-19. The state is one of the few that did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order or closure of nonessential businesses, although some municipalities, including Salt Lake County, have issued their own stay-at-home orders. About 125,000 people in the state have filed for unemployment since mid-march, amounting to less than 8% of the labor force — the second smallest share of any state.

See all stories featuring: Coronavirus in Utah

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

48. Virginia
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 15.7% of total (13th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 495,149 (11.3% of workforce — 11th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 12,970 (15.2 per 10,000 people — 21st highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 448 (0.5 per 10,000 people — 20th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 14.0% (3rd lowest)

Densely-populated states are more likely to have more COVID-19 cases per capita. In Virginia, despite the greater than average population density, the 15.2 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people is lower than the national figure of 29.4 per 10,000. Additionally, a relatively small share of workers in the state are employed in industries that are particularly vulnerable to slowdown in the wake of the measures taken to slow down the spread of the virus.

Due to the relatively low number of infections and favorable employment composition, Virginia’s economy will not likely be hit as hard as many other parts of the country by the coronavirus.

See all stories featuring: Coronavirus in Virginia

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

47. Maryland
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 15.7% of total (12th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 347,367 (10.7% of workforce — 7th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 16,616 (27.5 per 10,000 people — 11th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 723 (1.2 per 10,000 people — 12th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 13.9% (the lowest)

As is the case with its neighbor to the south, Virginia, Maryland’s economy is not especially exposed to slowdown in the wake of COVID-19. A relatively small share of workers in the state, 15.7%, are employed in industries that are projected to bear the brunt of the economic fallout. According to estimates by the Economic Policy Institute, Maryland’s unemployment rate in July will be just 13.9%, the lowest of any state according to projections.

See all stories featuring: Coronavirus in Maryland

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

46. Nebraska
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 15.7% of total (11th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 96,098 (9.4% of workforce — 5th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 3,028 (15.7 per 10,000 people — 19th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 56 (0.3 per 10,000 people — 13th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.1% (18th lowest)

Nebraska is one of the six states where less than 10% of the labor force has applied for unemployment since the first massive wave of national unemployment claims hit in mid-March. The structure of the state’s economy has made Nebraska somewhat less vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic and the measures taken to combat it. The state has relatively low employment in particularly hard-hit industries such as leisure and hospitality and mining. To date, Nebraska is one the few states not to issue statewide stay-at-home order or a closure of nonessential businesses.

See all stories featuring: Coronavirus in Nebraska