Special Report

State Economies Most Likely to Be Crippled by COVID-19

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15. Montana
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 19.4% of total (14th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 82,140 (15.6% of workforce — 17th highest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 449 (4.2 per 10,000 people — the lowest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 14 (0.1 per 10,000 people — 6th lowest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 16.3% (10th highest)

Montana to date has the lowest COVID-19 infection count per capita of any state, at just 4.2 cases per 10,000 people as of April 27. Despite this, the state economy will likely not be immune as the pandemic has affected the national and global economies in ways that will likely have a major impact on the state.

The state has a substantial energy sector, with the nation’s largest recoverable coal reserves. Montana also has a high level of employment in leisure and hospitality, another industry that has been especially hard-hit by the crisis. The EPI projects the state’s unemployment rate will reach 16.3% in July, tied with Wyoming and Kentucky for the 10th highest projected rate among states.

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14. Mississippi
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 19.1% of total (16th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 164,977 (13.0% of workforce — 25th lowest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 6,094 (20.4 per 10,000 people — 16th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 229 (0.8 per 10,000 people — 16th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 17.5% (5th highest)

Mississippi has an above average share of employment in highly at-risk industries, including leisure and hospitality and transportation and warehousing. In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.3%, already significantly higher than the national rate. The EPI estimates that by July, the state’s unemployment rate will reach 17.5%, the fifth highest projected unemployment rate of any state. On Monday, April 27, the state’s stay-at-home order expired, and some businesses in the state have begun reopening.

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13. Massachusetts
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 15.0% of total (6th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 653,680 (17.2% of workforce — 14th highest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 54,938 (79.6 per 10,000 people — 3rd highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 2,899 (4.2 per 10,000 people — 4th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 15.1% (18th lowest)

Massachusetts has a relatively low share of workers in high-risk industries, at 15.0% of employment. However, the state economy faces the risk of one of the worst coronavirus infection counts per capita of any state, at just about 80 per 10,000 residents. That figure is well more than double the national figure of 29.4 per 10,000, and is higher than any state other than New York or New Jersey. Massachusetts instituted a statewide stay-at-home order on March 24. On April 28, Gov. Charlie Baker announced plans to extend the state’s order through May 18.

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12. Delaware
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 17.0% of total (22nd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 71,316 (14.8% of workforce — 22nd highest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 4,162 (43.0 per 10,000 people — 7th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 125 (1.3 per 10,000 people — 9th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 16.8% (6th highest)

Like other similarly densely-populated states, Delaware has a higher concentration of confirmed cases of COVID-19 than much of the rest of the country. There were 43.0 cases for every 10,000 people as of April 27, more than in all but half a dozen other states. According to projections from the EPI, Delaware is facing a worse unemployment crisis than most states. By July, the state’s jobless rate could be as high at 16.8%, higher than the projected rates in all but five other states.

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11. Georgia
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 19.7% of total (9th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 1.1 million (21.5% of workforce — 7th highest)
> COVID cases as of April 27, 2020: 23,773 (22.6 per 10,000 people — 15th highest)
> COVID deaths as of April 27, 2020: 942 (0.9 per 10,000 people — 15th highest)
> Projected unemployment rate, July 2020: 14.9% (11th lowest)

Nearly one in every five workers in Georgia are employed in industries expected to bear the brunt of the economic decline brought on by COVID-19 and the measures taken to contain the disease’s spread. Since March 15, over a million state residents have filed for unemployment, equal to 21.5% of the workforce — a larger share than in all but six other states.

In order to reduce the economic damage, Georgia is one of only a handful of states to have lifted some restrictions on certain businesses and is now allowing limited dining in at restaurants.

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