Special Report

COVID-19 Has Wrecked Consumer Confidence in All 50 States

Samuel Stebbins, Grant Suneson

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35. Arizona
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -25.1% (118.5 to 88.8)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 19.3% (15th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 580,559 (16.5% of workforce – 13th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 14.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 194.3 per 100,000 people — 17th lowest (total: 13,937)

Arizona has not been hit as hard by COVID-19 as much of the rest of the country — a fact that may help explain the smaller drop in consumer confidence than in most states. Only about 16.5% of the state’s workforce have filed for unemployment since May 15, a smaller share than in most other states. Additionally, there have been 194 known cases of COVID-19 for every 100,000 people in the state, well below the national rate of 454 known cases per 100,000 people as of May 18, 2020.

After declining by a relatively low 25.1% between March 1 and May 15, consumer confidence stands at 88.8 points in Arizona, slightly higher than then the national level of 86.3.

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34. South Carolina
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -25.5% (124.1 to 92.5)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 19.6% (10th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 523,885 (22.2% of workforce – 17th highest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 12.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 175.9 per 100,000 people — 13th lowest (total: 8,942)

Between March 1 and May 25, consumer confidence dipped by 25.5% in South Carolina — a smaller drop than in most states but a larger decline than in most other Southern states. Consumer confidence was high in South Carolina before the pandemic, and even after the decline, it is higher than most other states. Currently, the consumer confidence index score in South Carolina stands at 92.5 — higher than in all but four other states.

As is often the case in states with relatively low declines in consumer confidence, South Carolina’s shutdown lasted less than one month. First put in place on April 7, the state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 4.

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33. Texas
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -26.0% (120.6 to 89.3)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 19.6% (11th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 2.1 million (14.8% of workforce – 6th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 16.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 169.7 per 100,000 people — 12th lowest (total: 48,693)

In Texas, confidence in personal finance and the national economy overall fell from 120.6 points on March 1 to 89.3 points on May 15, a 26.0% decline. The drop, while substantial, was not as precipitous as it was in most other states.

The relative economic optimism in Texas may be due in part to the state’s job market, which has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than most. Since mid-March only about 14.8% of the state’s workforce have filed for unemployment, a smaller share than in all but five other states.

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32. Virginia
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -26.1% (118.8 to 87.8)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 15.7% (13th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 725,195 (16.6% of workforce – 14th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 18.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 347.4 per 100,000 people — 19th highest (total: 29,591)

Consumer sentiment has not been as negatively affected in Virginia as it has been in most other states, falling by about 26% from March 1 to May 15. The relatively small decline in optimism may be partially due to the fact that Virginia’s job market has not been as affected since the beginning of the outbreak. Since mid-March, about 725,000 Virginians have applied for unemployment, or 16.6% of the workforce — a smaller share than in most states.

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31. Tennessee
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -26.2% (123.2 to 90.9)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 20.3% (5th highest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 519,815 (15.7% of workforce – 9th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 12.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 266.0 per 100,000 people — 24th highest (total: 18,011)

Tennessee’s 26.2% decline in consumer confidence between March 1 and May 15 was smaller than the decline in most states but larger than the drop reported in most other Southern states.

The larger reduction in economic optimism, relative to other states in the region, is likely due in part to the kinds of industries concentrated in the state. More than one in every five workers in Tennessee are employed in industries such as transportation and warehousing and tourism that are highly exposed to economic slowdown in the wake of the pandemic — a larger share than in all but four other states.