Special Report

COVID-19 Has Wrecked Consumer Confidence in All 50 States

Samuel Stebbins, Grant Suneson

50. New Mexico
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -20.1% (115.0 to 91.9)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 18.8% (18th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 146,207 (15.4% of workforce – 7th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 15.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 290.9 per 100,000 people — 21st highest (total: 6,096)

Since the beginning of March, consumer confidence in New Mexico has fallen by 20.1% — the smallest decline of any state. The relatively small drop in consumer confidence may be due in part to lower than average job losses. Since mid-March, 146,000 workers in the state have filed for unemployment — or 15.4% of the total work force, a smaller share than in the majority of states.

New Mexico is also well ahead of most states in terms of testing for the virus. As of May 18, the state conducted nearly 6,600 tests for every 100,000 people, well above the comparable scope of testing nationwide of 3,615 tests per 100,000 people.

Source: Jim Steffens / Stringer / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

49. South Dakota
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -21.4% (115.0 to 90.4)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 14.5% (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 46,726 (10.2% of workforce – 2nd lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 13.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 456.5 per 100,000 people — 14th highest (total: 4,027)

In South Dakota, confidence in personal finance and the national economy fell from 115 points on March 1 to 90.4 points on May 15, a 21.4% drop. The decline is lower than in nearly every other state partially because consumer confidence has rebounded in South Dakota in recent weeks. On May 1, consumer confidence hit a year-to-date low of 80.5 points.

The relatively small change in consumer confidence — a survey that measures consumer optimism — may be related in part to the state enacting comparatively few restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus. South Dakota is one of only a handful of states to not impose a stay-at-home order.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

48. Vermont
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -21.6% (95.1 to 74.6)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 15.4% (10th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 64,990 (18.9% of workforce – 24th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 17.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 150.1 per 100,000 people — 10th lowest (total: 940)

Consumer confidence in Vermont fell by 21.6% from March 1 to May 15, a smaller decline than in nearly every state. Rather than optimism, however, the smaller than average decline is largely because consumer confidence was low in Vermont to begin with. Since the beginning of the year — even before the COVID-19 pandemic — Vermonters have had a more pessimistic view of the economy than Americans in any other state. May 15 marks the first time Vermont did not rank last in consumer confidence. It is, however, one of only two states where consumer confidence stands below 75 points.

Vermont has implemented relatively strict shutdown measures to contain the virus. As of May 18, certain businesses like restaurants and salons remained closed.

Source: arkansasnationalguard / Flickr

47. Arkansas
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -21.7% (117.8 to 92.2)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 17.0% (23rd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 213,915 (15.8% of workforce – 10th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 9.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 159.7 per 100,000 people — 11th lowest (total: 4,813)

Confidence in personal finance and business conditions nationwide fell in Arkansas by 21.7% from March 1 to May 15. Not only is this one of the smallest declines in consumer confidence over the period, but also the state’s current consumer confidence index score of 92.2 is higher than in all but six other states.

Arkansas is one of only a handful of states to not implement a stay-at-home order. Partially as a result, the time residents have been spending at home during the pandemic climbed by only 9%, the smallest increase among states.

46. West Virginia
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -21.8% (111.6 to 87.3)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 18.2% (20th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 147,691 (18.7% of workforce – 23rd lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 10.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 82.6 per 100,000 people — 4th lowest (total: 1,491)

West Virginia is one of only five states where consumer confidence dropped less than 22% since the beginning of March, when the potential severity of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States came into sharper focus.

West Virginia was the last state to report its first case of COVID-19, and since that day — March 17 — the virus’s spread has been relatively minimal in the state. As of May 18, there have been fewer than 1,500 known infections in the state — or 83 for every 100,000 people, a fraction of the national known infection rate of 454 per 100,000.