Special Report

How Federal Funding Failed to Match Each State's COVID Outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis of historic magnitude — and it has ushered in an unemployment crisis of a scope not seen since the Great Depression. To reduce the severity and longevity of the economic fallout, the federal government authorized the disbursement of $3 trillion to protect the U.S. economy. For comparison, Washington spent about $1.8 trillion over the course of five years in response to the Great Recession of 2008. Here is a list of economic crises in the U.S. that needed a massive government stimulus package.

The relief and recovery packages have provided relatively timely support to Americans and will certainly help stave off longer-term economic damage. The legislation has also been widely criticized for flaws such as prioritizing industries over workers, inadequate funding for health care, and potentially hindering people who do not typically file tax returns from applying for one-time payments.

More generally, the distribution of the funds to states has appeared especially crude — as many of the hardest hit states have not received federal funding commensurate to the severity of their public health or economic crises. 

24/7 Wall St. compared federal funds allocated to each state relative to the state’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and to total unemployment claims since mid-March. States are ranked from those that received the most funding relative to the scope of their problems to those that received the least. We included in our analysis funds paid to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as those distributed to individuals and businesses. 

To gauge the federal government’s response in proportion to each state’s problems, we broke down the aid into two categories: money for COVID-19 testing and treatment and money for economic relief. In Alaska, a state with only 513 known cases of the virus to date, federal medical aid comes to about $2.7 million per case of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, in New York, a state with more than 375,000 cases, federal funds come to just $43,000 per case. Here is a list of the states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases

Similarly, in Wyoming, the state with the fewest unemployment claims since mid-March, economic stimulus money to the state comes out to about $38,000 per unemployment claim. In Georgia, a state with over 2 million unemployment claims over the same time, stimulus comes out to only about $10,000 per claim. Here is a look at every state’s unemployment claims since COVID-19 shut the economy down. 

Click here to see our full methodology.
Click here to see how federal funding has failed to match each state’s COVID-19 outbreak.