Special Report

State Economies Most Likely to Be Crippled by COVID-19

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50. South Dakota
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 14.5% of total (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 50,221 (11.0% of workforce — 2nd lowest)
> COVID cases as of June 1, 2020: 5,034 (571 per 100,000 people — 13th highest)
> COVID deaths as of June 1, 2020: 62 (7 per 100,000 people — 13th lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 10.2% (11th lowest)

South Dakota’s economy ranks as the least exposed of any state to slowing down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Only 14.5% of workers in South Dakota are employed in industries that are at high risk of contraction due to efforts to contain the virus, the second smallest share of any state. Since mid-March, only 50,221 workers in the state, or 11.0% of the total labor force, have claimed unemployment — the second smallest share among states.

Perhaps not surprisingly, consumer sentiment remains relatively high in South Dakota. The state’s consumer confidence index stands at 90.4 points — well above the national average of 86.3 points.

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49. Utah
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 17.0% of total (25th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 164,539 (10.4% of workforce — the lowest)
> COVID cases as of June 1, 2020: 9,999 (316 per 100,000 people — 23rd lowest)
> COVID deaths as of June 1, 2020: 113 (4 per 100,000 people — 5th lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 9.7% (7th lowest)

Utah is one of the few states that did not issue a statewide stay-at-home order or closure of nonessential businesses, although some municipalities, including Salt Lake County, have issued their own stay-at-home orders. About 165,000 people in the state have filed for unemployment since mid-March, amounting to 10.4% of the labor force — the smallest share of any state.

Infection rates in Utah have also been lower than average. As of June 1, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the state was 316 for every 100,000 people, well below the nationwide rate of 547 per 100,000 people.

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48. Nebraska
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 15.7% of total (11th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 128,821 (12.6% of workforce — 3rd lowest)
> COVID cases as of June 1, 2020: 14,345 (744 per 100,000 people — 10th highest)
> COVID deaths as of June 1, 2020: 178 (9 per 100,000 people — 19th lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 8.3% (3rd lowest)

The structure of Nebraska’s economy has made the state somewhat less vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic and the measures taken to combat it. The state has relatively low employment in particularly hard-hit industries such as leisure and hospitality and mining. Additionally, to date, Nebraska is one the few states not to issue a statewide stay-at-home order or closure of nonessential businesses.

While its economy has not been hit as hard as many other states, infections have been relatively concentrated in Nebraska. There have been 744 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people in Nebraska as of June 1, well above the 547 cases per 100,000 people nationwide.

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47. Idaho
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 16.1% of total (16th lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 140,807 (16.2% of workforce — 8th lowest)
> COVID cases as of June 1, 2020: 2,839 (162 per 100,000 people — 8th lowest)
> COVID deaths as of June 1, 2020: 82 (5 per 100,000 people — 9th lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 11.5% (18th lowest)

Before the U.S. economy went into freefall, the monthly jobless rate in Idaho was 2.5%, well below the 4.4% national unemployment rate. As of April, the state’s unemployment rate remained relatively low at 11.5% — compared to the 14.7% national rate.

The coronavirus itself has not been especially widespread in the state. Idaho had fewer than 3,000 known cases as of COVID-19 as of June 1. After adjusting for its relatively low population, Idaho has one of the lower number of confirmed cases per capita among states.

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46. Arkansas
> Workforce in high-risk industries: 17.0% of total (23rd lowest)
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 225,144 (16.6% of workforce — 10th lowest)
> COVID cases as of June 1, 2020: 7,443 (247 per 100,000 people — 15th lowest)
> COVID deaths as of June 1, 2020: 133 (4 per 100,000 people — 8th lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 10.2% (11th lowest)

The April unemployment rate stood at 10.2% in Arkansas — well below the 14.7% national average. The relatively lower jobless rate may explain why state residents are somewhat optimistic about their personal finances and U.S. business conditions as a whole. The consumer confidence index stands at 92.2 in Arkansas, higher than in all but five other states and about 6 points above the national average. Arkansas is one of several states to not impose a statewide stay-at-home order to report more minimal economic fallout relative to most states.

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