Special Report

COVID-19 Has Wrecked Consumer Confidence in All 50 States

Samuel Stebbins, Grant Suneson

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images News via Getty Images

30. Missouri
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -26.8% (120.7 to 88.3)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 16.6% (19th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 557,799 (18.2% of workforce – 19th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 12.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 178.7 per 100,000 people — 15th lowest (total: 10,945)

Over the last two and a half months, consumer sentiment in Missouri fell by 26.8%. The stay-at-home order went into effect in the state on April 6 and expired on May 3. Despite the partial reopening, consumer confidence has not regained much ground over the last two weeks, climbing only a fraction of a point, from 88.0 on May 1 to 88.3 on May 15.

Source: tabor-roeder / Flickr

29. Iowa
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -26.9% (110.6 to 80.9)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 14.9% (3rd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 312,234 (18.2% of workforce – 18th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 15.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 473.8 per 100,000 people — 13th highest (total: 14,955)

Iowa is one of only a handful of states to not implement a stay-at-home order. Social distancing is, at present, the most effective tool for stopping the spread of the coronavirus, and less restrictive policies may partially explain why a larger share of Iowa’s population has been infected. To date, there have been 474 infections for every 100,000 state residents, a larger share than in all but a dozen other states.

Though the 26.9% drop in consumer sentiment over the last two and a half months in Iowa is somewhat smaller than in most states, Iowans are more likely to be pessimistic about their personal finances and national business conditions than most Americans. The consumer confidence index stands at 80.9 in Iowa, well below the comparable 86.3 national level.

28. Idaho
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -27.0% (124.3 to 90.8)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 16.1% (16th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 136,010 (15.7% of workforce – 8th lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 12.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 137.9 per 100,000 people — 9th lowest (total: 2,419)

On March 1, Idaho had the fourth-highest consumer confidence of any state. By May 15, after a 27% drop in consumer confidence, the state ranked 11th. Compared to other states, the state has avoided worst-case outcomes regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the economy. Idaho has among the 10 lowest rates of confirmed cases and related deaths per capita. The state has also had just 15.7% of its labor force file for unemployment from March 21 through May 16, a lower share than all but seven other states. Yet, despite somewhat better outcomes compared to other states, consumer confidence in the state has declined 27% since March 1.

27. Nebraska
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -27.2% (119.3 to 86.9)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 15.7% (11th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 123,030 (12.0% of workforce – 3rd lowest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 15.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 550.7 per 100,000 people — 10th highest (total: 10,625)

Over the last two and a half months, consumer confidence has fallen by 27.2% in Nebraska — roughly in the middle of all declines reported by states. In recent weeks, confidence in personal finances and the broader national economy has made a substantial comeback in the state. Consumer sentiment hit a year-to-date low of 78.6 points in Nebraska on April 15. Now, one month later, the consumer sentiment index stands at 86.9. Over the course of that month, restrictions have been loosened considerably in much of the state, including reopening of restaurants and salons.

26. Delaware
> Chg. in consumer confidence from March 1 to May 15: -27.3% (115.5 to 84.0)
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 17.0% (22nd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 96,194 (19.9% of workforce – 23rd highest)
> Chg. in avg. time spent at home: 17.0% more than normal
> COVID-19 cases as of May 18, 2020: 813.6 per 100,000 people — 6th highest (total: 7,869)

Like other densely-populated states, Delaware has struggled with a relatively wide spread of the coronavirus, with 814 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, well ahead of the U.S. infection rate of 454 per 100,000. Yet Delaware’s consumer confidence has not dropped as much as in half the states, falling 27.3%. This may be due in part to the fact that Delaware’s workers are unlikely to be affected by the economic effects of the pandemic as more than 85% are employed in low-or-moderate-risk industries.