K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate: The Economy Really Is Worse in Blue States. But Why?

Jordan Weissman:

Seven months into the coronavirus crisis, the states with the most severe unemployment in the country all seem to have one thing in common: They vote blue.

In September, just eight states had jobless rates that were significantly higher than the nation as a whole, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each of them—New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Hawaii—backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and all but Massachusetts had a Democratic governor.* These states did not suffer from unusually high unemployment rates before the pandemic began, but now are facing rates ranging from 9.4 percent up to 15.1 percent, compared with 7.9 percent nationally.

Note: These are the eight states that have unemployment higher than the U.S. rate, and where the difference is statistically significant at the 90 percent level. Jordan Weissmann/Slate

By contrast, the states with the lowest unemployment last month tilted red: Of the bottom 10—Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Utah, South Carolina, Montana, and Oklahoma—eight both had a Republican governor and backed Donald Trump in the last election. All had jobless rates below 5.4 percent.

Even if you turn your attention away from the extremes, it’s clear that the economic damage has been significantly worse overall in Biden Country, where employment has fallen 8.6 percent, than in Trump country, where it’s down 4.6 percent, according to an analysis by Indeed.com economist Jed Kolko.

Much more on Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.