Special Report

State Economies Hit Hardest by COVID-19

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6. Iowa
> 1-year GDP change: -1.4%
> Fastest growing industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+12.5%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-31.7%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 3.6%

Over the past year, Iowa’s economy contracted by 1.4%. The economic fallout, largely attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, was not as pronounced in Iowa as it was in much of the rest of the country, however, as the U.S. economy contracted by 2.8% over the same period. Similarly, job losses have not been as widespread in Iowa as they have across the U.S. as a whole. Unemployment in Iowa in November 2020 hit 3.6% — up slightly from 2.8% the same month last year. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate as of November 2020 was 6.7%, compared to 3.5% in November 2019.

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7. South Dakota
> 1-year GDP change: -1.5%
> Fastest growing industry: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+11.4%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-22.0%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 3.5%

South Dakota’s GDP in Q3 of 2020 totaled $47.1 billion — down 1.5% from the third quarter of 2019. The state’s economic decline was far less severe than in much of the rest of the country. Nationwide, economic output fell by 2.8% over the same period. The relatively limited economic damage in South Dakota is likely due in part to the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy makers in the state appeared to prioritize the economy over public health, as South Dakota was one of only a handful of states to not issue a statewide stay-at-home order in the early days of the pandemic.

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8. Georgia
> 1-year GDP change: -1.7%
> Fastest growing industry: Utilities (+8.1%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-28.0%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 5.7%

Georgia’s economic output fell by 1.7% from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020. The industries that reported the largest economic contraction tended to be those that were highly exposed to measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19. These include accommodation and food services, transportation and warehousing, and arts, entertainment, and recreation — each of which reported a double-digit decline in economic output.

Georgia’s falling GDP is reflected in the worsening condition of the state’s job market. Over the same period of economic downturn, the number of people working in the state fell by 331,700.

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9. North Carolina
> 1-year GDP change: -1.7%
> Fastest growing industry: Finance and insurance (+6.3%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Arts, entertainment, and recreation (-41.6%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 6.2%

North Carolina’s economy contracted by 1.7% in the past year. The contraction was driven by steep output declines in a number of industries, including accommodation and food services and arts, entertainment, and recreation — two sectors hit hard by efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

While North Carolina’s GDP decline was not as severe as it was in most other states, job losses were worse than average. Between November of 2019 and November of 2020, the number of people working in North Carolina fell by 7.5%, a larger decline than in all but a dozen other states.

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10. Arkansas
> 1-year GDP change: -1.8%
> Fastest growing industry: Utilities (+13.0%)
> Fastest shrinking industry: Accommodation and food services (-17.3%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment rate: 6.2%

Economic output in Arkansas was 1.8% lower in Q3 of 2020 than the same quarter in 2019. The decline was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting national economic collapse. Over the same 12-month period the previous year, Arkansas’s economy grew by 0.8%.

As is the case nationwide, unemployment climbed in Arkansas as economic output fell. The most recent jobless rate in the state, which was November 2020, stands at 6.2%, up from 3.5% one year earlier.