Special Report

State Economies Hit Hardest By the COVID-19 Recession

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35. Mississippi
> 1-yr. GDP change: -2.8%
> 2020 GDP: $99.8 billion (15th smallest)
> Fastest shrinking industry, 2019-2020: Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (-20.2%)
> Fastest growing industry, 2019-2020: Utilities (+13.4%)
> April 2021 unemployment: 6.2% (18th highest)

Economic output in Mississippi fell from $102.7 billion in 2019 to $99.8 billion in 2020. The 2.8% economic contraction was not as steep as in most other states. As was the case in much of the country, the fastest-growing industry in the Mississippi was utilities, which expanded by 13.4%, and the fastest-shrinking industry was arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, which contracted by 20.2%.

Just as Mississippi’s economic decline was relatively modest, so too were job losses in the state. Overall employment fell by 4.3% in 2020, as the state lost 50,000 jobs. Nationwide, employment fell by 5.8%.

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34. Oregon
> 1-yr. GDP change: -2.8%
> 2020 GDP: $219.0 billion (25th largest)
> Fastest shrinking industry, 2019-2020: Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (-29.5%)
> Fastest growing industry, 2019-2020: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+9.2%)
> April 2021 unemployment: 6.0% (20th highest)

Oregon’s economy was spared some of the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as economic output fell by 2.8% in 2020 — a smaller contraction than in most other states. The relatively small decline was due in part to rapid growth in the state’s agricultural sector, which expanded by 9.2% and contributed a net 0.2 percentage points increase to the state’s GDP. Other positive growth sectors in the state included the information and utilities sectors.

Despite relatively limited declines in economic output, employment in Oregon fell by 6.6% in 2020, considerably more than the 5.8% national decline. Oregon’s monthly unemployment rate of 6.0% is closely in line with the comparable 6.1% national rate.

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33. Florida
> 1-yr. GDP change: -2.9%
> 2020 GDP: $935.7 billion (4th largest)
> Fastest shrinking industry, 2019-2020: Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (-22.2%)
> Fastest growing industry, 2019-2020: Utilities (+8.6%)
> April 2021 unemployment: 4.8% (23rd lowest)

Florida’s economy contracted by 2.9% in 2020. Few state economies rely more heavily on tourism than Florida’s, and last year, the state’s arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services sector reported a 22.2% decline in output — resulting in a 1.3 percentage point net decline in the state’s overall GDP. Florida’s transportation and warehousing sector shaved an additional 0.3 percentage points off overall economic growth.

Overall employment in Florida fell by 5.2% in 2020. Meanwhile, the number of jobs nationwide fell by 5.8% over the same period.

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32. Kansas
> 1-yr. GDP change: -3.0%
> 2020 GDP: $155.3 billion (19th smallest)
> Fastest shrinking industry, 2019-2020: Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (-24.9%)
> Fastest growing industry, 2019-2020: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+5.6%)
> April 2021 unemployment: 3.5% (7th lowest)

Economic output in Kansas fell from $160.1 billion in 2019 to $155.3 billion in 2020. The 3.0% economic contraction was not as steep as in most states. As was the case in much of the country, the fastest shrinking industry in Kansas was arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, which contracted by 24.9% — resulting in a 0.7 net drag on overall economic growth.

Agriculture and forestry, as well as manufacturing, were economic boons for Kansas in 2020. Combined, the two sectors contributed half a percentage point to GDP growth.

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31. Montana
> 1-yr. GDP change: -3.0%
> 2020 GDP: $46.5 billion (3rd smallest)
> Fastest shrinking industry, 2019-2020: Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (-21.5%)
> Fastest growing industry, 2019-2020: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+14.0%)
> April 2021 unemployment: 3.7% (9th lowest)

Montana’s economy contracted by 3.0%, or $1.4 billion, in 2020. The largest drags on growth in the state were the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, transportation and warehousing, and educational services sectors.

Job losses in Montana were proportional to economic declines. The number of people working in the state fell by 15,000, or 3.1%, in 2020. Job losses were most pronounced in the state’s leisure and hospitality and mining and logging sectors. As of April, Montana’s unemployment rate was 3.7%, well below the 6.1% rate nationwide.