Special Report

State Economies Most Likely to Be Crippled by COVID-19

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30. North Carolina
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 17.6% of total (23rd highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 648,320 (12.8% of workforce — 22nd lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 9,142 (8.8 per 10,000 people — 10th lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 306 (0.3 per 10,000 people — 14th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.5% (24th highest)

The number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina so far has been relatively low, with just 8.8 cases per 10,000 residents as of April 27, less than a third of the national figure of 29.4 per 10,000 people. The state has relatively high employment in certain especially vulnerable industries to the coronavirus crisis, including in services and leisure and hospitality. On April 27, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would continue for at least an additional two weeks.

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29. Arizona
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 19.3% of total (15th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 421,090 (12.0% of workforce — 16th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 6,526 (9.1 per 10,000 people — 12th lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 275 (0.4 per 10,000 people — 18th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.4% (24th lowest)

Arizona’s unemployment rate is projected to be 15.4% by July, roughly in ine with the projected national rate of 15.6%, according to projections from the EPI. Nearly one in every five workers in the state are employed in industries that are expected to slow down the most in wake of the pandemic.

Despite imposing stay-at-home orders later than most states, the number of diagnosed cases relative to the size of the population in Arizona is lower than average. There have been just 9.1 confirmed cases of the virus for every 10,000 Arizona residents, less than one-third of the comparable national infection figure.

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28. West Virginia
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 18.2% of total (20th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 93,748 (11.9% of workforce — 15th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 1,053 (5.8 per 10,000 people — 5th lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 34 (0.2 per 10,000 people — 8th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 16.3% (10th highest)

As a state whose residents have long struggled economically, West Virginia had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country before this crisis began. The state’s unemployment rate as of March has jumped to 6.1%, third highest of any state. West Virginia has a relatively low share of employment in medium-risk industries and relatively high shares in high-risk industries such as mining and low-risk industries such as health care.

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27. New Mexico
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 18.8% of total (18th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 104,467 (11.0% of workforce — 9th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 2,726 (13.0 per 10,000 people — 22nd lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 99 (0.5 per 10,000 people — 24th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 16.2% (14th highest)

Before the coronavirus pandemic shut New Mexico down, the state had one of the worst job markets in the country, with a 5.9% May unemployment rate. Partially because of the large share of workers in the state employed in oil and gas extraction — an industry more susceptible than most to slowing down in the wake of the virus — the state’s unemployment rate is projected to reach 16.2% by July, higher than what is expected in most other states.

A stay at home order took effect in New Mexico on March 24, and recently, a group of 19 mayors across the state signed a petition that was sent to the governor requesting that nonessential businesses reopen.

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26. Florida
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 20.1% of total (6th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 1.2 million (11.3% of workforce — 10th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 32,138 (15.1 per 10,000 people — 22nd highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 1,088 (0.5 per 10,000 people — 21st highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.5% (24th highest)

Florida is one of just six states where over 20% of state employment is concentrated in industries that are most vulnerable to the economic effects of the efforts to contain COVID-19. Notably, leisure and hospitality accounted for 14.1% of state employment in 2018, and travel. Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, the largest single-location employer in the country, furloughed over 40,000 workers after it had been closed for more than a month.

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